‘Ram’ Again Lands Congress in Dilemma

When nine States are going to polls this year and a general election is due in 2009,

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SAHAR KHAN

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When nine States are going to polls this year and a general election is due in 2009, the Congress Party seems to be in a tight-spot over the programme televised on ‘Ram’. Several television channels are either screening programmes on Hindu God ‘Ram’ or planning to do so in the near future.
The Congress Party sources claimed that they could find ways and means and chart out strategy to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindutva agenda but they are in a quandary on how to tackle the mushrooming of programmes based on Ram now. The gain that such a programme may yield for the Saffron party obviously remains the fear for the Congress.
The party which is yet to settle down on the issue of Ramsetu owing to the UPA’s stand and the controversy surfaced over the affidavit filed on it, the Congress does not wish to lose grounds further after a series of poll debacles it had faced in the recently held Assembly elections.
“We need to find out whether various programmes on Lord Rama shown on TV are a part of larger political game-plan particularly when the senior BJP leader L.K. Advani has apparently been given a green signal to lead the Saffron party in the next general election,” said a senior Congress leader.
Since the last few weeks the TV telecasting has undergone a transformation in its presentations. The national media, in an attempt to keep itself look as ‘progressive’, has usually kept itself away and free from the myths and mythology of the Hindu religion but its approach and line of action seems to have taken different routes now. It is believed that journalists with communal leaning still continue to have a say in the English media. Compared to them the Hindi media wishing not to be clubbed as communal has adopted a scientific line of thinking in Hindi journalism.
But now the analysts believe that somewhere the grip of communalists on media stands weakened owing to which the Hindi channels have emerged popular among the masses across the nation.
Consequently, serious channels are also seen towing the line of the channels that are based on devotion, faith and culture.
During the controversy on ‘Ram Setu’ these channels might seem to have maintained a different posture but today one could see a competition and struggle among the various channels, with the assistance of the Sri Lanka government, to portray various places and spots presumably connected with Rama, Sita, Ravana, Hanuman and others. This, without doubt, leaves one astounded.
The NDTV programme on ‘Ramayana’ serial and its aggressive campaigning is making the name ‘Ram’ increasingly popular everywhere. NDTV, rated as progressive channel, is reported to have been using temples for gaining popularity and propagating the proposed ‘Ramayana’ serial.
Already the senior leaders in the Congress Party admitted that the party’s soft stance on communalism in Gujarat election backfired and the party received a drubbing. Some leaders look forward to continue with the soft Hindutva stance but several other Congressmen have begun advocating that there is a growing feeling among minorities that the Congress-led UPA at the Centre is not being pro-active in implementing the Sachar Committee recommendations, which submitted its report over a year ago.
Nine States, including Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, will go to assembly polls before the general elections early next year. As the voters particularly the minorities closely watch the move of Congress Party, the latter increasingly seems to be in a fix as ‘Rama’ again gains popularity, albeit through the various television programmes, which it fears might serve the interest of the Saffron party, BJP.