The Congress Talking Heads
Say one thing for Randeep Surjewala—he’s never at a loss for an answer and it’s usually a well researched one. For instance, if he’s commenting on Narendra Modi, he will not only quote to you comments Modi made as PM, but even various articles he’d have written as Chief Minister. In fact, ever since Surjewala took charge of the Congress party’s Media Cell, spokesmen are handed talking points for the debate of the day. This is essential because with Rahul Gandhi deploying the old timers like R.P.N. Singh and Madhu Yaskhi for organisational work, the next generation of spokesmen are being groomed such as Priyanka Chaturvedi, Brajesh Kalappa, Sanjay Jha and Jaiveer Shergill. From the older lot, Manish Tewari brings heft and institutional memory to the table, while Dr Abhishek Singhvi’s reasoned tone and omnipresent smile gets him more points than the shouting brigade he is often pitted against. A welcome addition is Pawan Khera with his ready wit and a newfound studio aggression that was thankfully missing when he handled the media as political advisor to ex Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for over a decade.
BJP’s Response Team
The star of the BJP stable of spokespersons has to be Dr Sambit Patra who has lost weight and gained heft during the last four years of the Narendra Modi government. Again, he is one who comes well prepared, both with clippings and a snappy soundbite; and I would swear there is more than one channel that has a window named after him for the prime time slot. Dr Sudhanshu Trivedi is another TRP puller, especially when he is in the mood to quote some Sanskrit shlokas. Those who have seen Amit Malviya on Twitter will realise that what you get on TV is actually his gentler side. And a word of warning—if there is a panel which has both Amit Malviya and Priyanka Chaturvedi, then plug your ears and reach for the remote!
On the eve of the Karnataka polls, the buzz in the Congress was that while it may emerge as the single largest party, the Governor could well invite the BJP + JDS to form the government, as it fears an electoral understanding between Kumaraswamy and the BJP leadership. For the record, Deve Gowda has stated that he would disown his son if he went with the BJP. But that was campaign talk. Maybe he’d find it easier to disown the statement instead.