Points of Disorder

The inevitable evisceration of Sansad TV

01 December 2023
The Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi speaks during a no-confidence motion, against the Narendra Modi government, on 8 August 2023.
Sansad TV
The Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi speaks during a no-confidence motion, against the Narendra Modi government, on 8 August 2023.
Sansad TV

At 12.45 pm on 8 August, the Lok Sabha was disrupted yet again. The fact that parliamentary proceedings had been stalled was not unusual—but the reason for the disruption was. Around twenty minutes after the Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi began speaking in defence of a no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government, the ticker at the bottom of the Sansad TV feed, which usually shows what is being discussed, abruptly reset and began listing the achievements of various ministries. In effect, those watching the debate were being offered a real-time rebuttal to Gogoi’s speech on behalf of the government.

Opposition MPs noticed the ticker on the giant screens inside the house and protested once Gogoi ended his speech. However, viewers at home might have been confused about what was going on. As is increasingly common with Sansad TV, the protests were not shown and could barely be heard. (This is only true for disruptions caused by the opposition. When members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party took exception to something Gogoi said, their protestations could be seen and heard loud and clear.) For most of the fifteen minutes that the protests continued, all that was visible on screen was the speaker, Om Birla, chastising the opposition. When the shouting grew too loud, Birla promised to take cognisance of the opposition’s concerns, without saying what the concerns actually were.

The live feed was muted for a while, as Birla conferred with an aide. At 12.53 pm, the ticker stopped and the sloganeering subsided, but both soon started again. “Sansad TV [is] BJP TV, sir!” one MP shouted in the background. Birla assured the opposition that he had passed on instructions. “I don’t have the button for this,” he joked. For variety, the camera cut to the minister of parliamentary affairs, Pralhad Joshi, who falsely claimed that similar tickers were always present during such discussions and accused the opposition of being insecure. “Are they afraid of you?” Birla asked Joshi, and laughed. The feed was again muted until the ticker was finally reset, at 12.58 pm, and normal service resumed.

Don't want to read further? Stay in touch

  • Free newsletters. updates. and special reads
  • Be the first to hear about subscription sales
  • Register for Free

    Ajachi Chakrabarti is the associate editor at The Caravan.

    Keywords: BJP Parliament building
    COMMENT