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THE I.N.D.I.A. combine has come up with a list of anchors that it has put on its boycott list. As it is, the Congress was not sending its spokespersons to a couple of channels that they saw as Godi-Media; but this individual specific boycott is a new step. As explained by an Opposition spokesperson, the rationale behind it is that, apart from their choice of debate topics, most of these anchors do not allow the opposition to voice its views and usually pack the panel with more pro-government voices than opposition ones. However, there are those within I.N.D.I.A., who are wondering if this is not some sort of a self-goal, for there are enough self-styled political analysts who will be now appearing on these debates as “I.N.D.I.A. Supporters or Sympathisers” to project the Opposition point of view, and provide the optics of a balanced debate. However, these panellists will be functioning without an official briefing by the party leadership, and will end up creating more confusion than anything else. This is precisely what had happened when the BJP boycotted NDTV during its previous ownership. Some Opposition leaders also point out that there as many as 11 Chief Ministers in the I.N.D.I. Alliance. What if these states stop advertising on the channels that give platforms to divisive speech? Won’t that boycott be more effective? It would also be interesting to note the stand that the channels themselves take. Should they stand by their anchors and refuse to invite I.N.D.I.A. representatives on all their shows and debates? And in the end, what happens to free speech amidst all these bans and allegations of doctored debates?

Agenda for Special Session

The government has announced the agenda for the Special Session but that hasn’t stopped the speculation of a big ticket game-changing announcement. Some reporters claim that Home Minister Amit Shah has hinted that the government will make an announcement that no one will be able to oppose. Will this be the Women’s Reservation Bill, or an increase in the OBC quota cap from 50% to 60%. While the latter move may not pass scrutiny from the courts, it could help the BJP in the coming Assembly elections. Then again, there are others who claim that the government came up with this September session in place of the November-December one, as the timing of that will clash with a round of Assembly polls. Well, the speculation continues.

G20 and onwards

What next for Amitabh Kant and Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who worked the nuts and bolts of G20’s New Delhi Declaration? There is a buzz that Shringla could be fielded from the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat in the coming elections. The three-day G20 Tourism meet that was held in Darjeeling created a lot of goodwill for both the Prime Minister and the BJP locally. Moreover, Shringla’s family is well known in both Darjeeling and Sikkim. As for Amitabh Kant, he has proved himself time and again as someone who delivers, so in all probability this is not his last engagement with the Modi government. Some see him as the next Nandan Nilekani or even perhaps N.K. Singh. But won’t that be limiting his usefulness from project to project, instead of a larger, more comprehensive role?

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