NEW DELHI: Even as television channels are trying to be one up on the other in the coverage of the counting process and the general election results, most channels reflected a common perception:that the results were individual-based and not party-based.
In fact, most channels had the faces of Narendra Modi when showing the results of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that of Rahul Gandhi when showing the fate of the Indian National Congress (INC), of Arvind Kejriwal when reflecting how the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was doing, and so on. The party symbols of these parties were curiously missing from the studio reportage, even as these appeared during the live coverages from all over the country.
Doordarshan News expectedly was the most sober in its coverage even as it was a little behind the other channels in showing the trends or results, but surprisingly even Times Now appeared to move a bit slowly with the trends and results even as it succeeded in getting a large number of panelists and politicians on board throughout the day.
Even Lok Sabha TV (LSTV) and Rajya Sabha TV (RSTV) joined the fray for the first time to show the results. However, while LSTV confined itself to showing figures taken from Doordarshan accompanied by a live panel discussion, RSTV had live coverages from different parts of the country in collaboration with DD.
Clearly, NDTV 24x7 and ABP News captured a large number of eyeballs with their graphic presentations. NDTV 24x7 showed graphic presentation of the Lok Sabha, with a majority of seats occupied with yellow-coloured figures representing the BJP, and the numbers changed as the trends and results emerged.
Aaj Tak had moving caricatures of Modi, Gandhi and Kejriwal reflecting the fate of their respective party, with Modi dancing with joy, Gandhi brow in frustration, and Kejriwal looking crestfallen in place of the party symbols.
Interestingly the poll figures remained on screen even during the commercial breaks, reflecting the interest of the viewer.
As expected the presentations on the main news channels were led by their heads including Prannoy Roy of NDTV, Arnab Goswami of Times Now, and Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN.
One common repeat throughout the day on all channels were the shots of Modi meeting and taking the blessings of his aged mother after his Vadodara victory and the run of the party for which he is the Prime Ministerial candidate.
While Times Now appeared very cluttered with too many figures running simultaneously along with several visuals at the same time, channels like Zee News, ABP News, NDTV 24X7, P7, India News, CNN-IBN and NewsX caught the eye with their graphics and presentation.
The interest in the Indian elections overseas was reflected by BBC Global News, as it went live several times during the day and had a live translation of all press meets being addressed in Hindi. CNN in comparison showed little interest as it only mentioned the results or trends from time to time.
Clearly, all the channels were out to outdo each other as far as presentation was concerned vis-a-vis live graphics and coverage, and some like Times Now, ABP News, CNN-IBN and NDTV 24X7 catching the eye with their sets, with ABP News and NDTV 24X7 being most innovative.
But it was clear that all the channels probably spent much more than the budgets initially earmarked by them for today. An earlier report had said that the channels had put aside Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore for the day, but one reporter of a channel told indiantelevision.com that the amount would go higher.
Certain common points of discussion emerged throughout the day: was it the victory of Modi, the BJP workers or the RSS (an issue raised by both LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj during the day); will Rahul resign, accepting responsibility; did the allies matter since the BJP had emerged strongly on its own; was this high vote for BJP a rejection of many that it was a communal party; whether BJP leader Giriraj Singh who had made some very damaging statements should be removed from the party; why Sonia and Rahul Gandhi did not take questions and just made statements (Rahul was ready to face question, but left on Sonia’s gesture); and why were Dr Manmohan Singh and Arjun Kejriwal conspicuously missing. Advani and Sushma Swaraj's attribution of the victory to BJP workers and the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh; and the virtually plastic smile on the face of Rahul also made for a lot of talk on TV channels and social media.
But apart from the TV channels and even All India Radio including FM Gold which went live from 8:30 am in the morning, the social media was as active. While live coverage by way of latest figures appeared on sites like yahoo.in, Twitter was very active and was quoted throughout the day by TV channels whenever any personality including Modi and LK Advani sent tweets.
Several interesting cartoons came on the internet, particularly Facebook, from individuals. One had a cartoon of Rahul Gandhi’s smiling face with the use of a BJP slogan: ‘Acchey din aaney waley hain, hum naani ke ghar jaane waaley hain’ (Good days are coming, we will go to our grandmother’s house) while another had a poster of ‘Dabbang 3’ with the photo of Modi. Some wanted to know if the victory of the film personalities was that of the individuals or the party they represented.
Even as the results started coming in the afternoon, the focus shifted entirely to the major personalities in the fray. And it will be interesting to note the conjectures of the channels about possible portfolios, particularly since most TV channels had got the exit polls right by predicting the victory of BJP.