Why set up NaMo TV when other channels do the job

The Election Commission of India has directed BJP to air only 'pre-certified' programmes on NaMo TV. Twitter via @_NaMoTV

The BJP has finally lived up to one of its numerous 2014 promises. In the run up to the elections, its cadres had chanted “Har- har Modi, ghar- ghar Modi (hail Modi who is in every Indian home)” by smartly repackaging a slogan that deities chant for Lord Shiva. Turns out, five years later Prime Minister Narendra Modi is indeed going direct to  every Indian home—through cable and DTH platforms.

On Monday, Indian viewers woke up to the sounds and sights of a new offering on their TV sets—a 24×7 channel dedicated to the praise and promotion of the ruling deity of the unique Indian entity called bhakts. The channel, cleverly but unimaginatively titled NaMo TV, promises round the clock coverage of Modi’s election rallies, roadshows, blitzkriegs and inspirational messages, both from the past and present. Promoted by a Gujarat-based political analyst, the channel was pushed heavily on social media platforms by the BJP and related accounts.

It is difficult to understand why the BJP needs a channel of its own when dozens of others are tripping over themselves to be his master’s voice. After all, many other channels have been doing the same kind of propaganda from behind the veil of objectivity. For argument’s sake, can anyone answer what the nation wants to know (about the PM) with more loyalty than some of the celebrity anchors of our generation?

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DTH providers airing it for free

Only four possible reasons justify this new addition to the DTH bouquet. One, the promoters have taken the term ‘idiot box’ quite literally—influenced by the IQ of the viewers who consume content these days. After all, it is the duty of a party to give devotees the content they deserve.

Two, in a true democracy, TV channels are for the leader, by the leader and of the leader. If this line of thinking prevails, we should be ready for the next TV channel, likely to be called AaSha (hope) TV. Three, the BJP is tired of giving money to private TV channels for publicity and propaganda. Since Modi brings the TRPs, NaMo TV is a message to other media houses that henceforth what Modi brings, the BJP would keep. It’s like Salman Khan asking his own family to produce his films so that the Rs 500-crore they bring in remain within the family.

Four, the Prime Minister likes the sound and sight of his own name. He has heard it at election rallies, got it embossed on suits, now he wants it on the TV screen. Come to think of it, so far the PM’s life has been chronicled only in bits and pieces. For his childhood exploits, we have had Bal Narendra, a comic book dedicated to the PM’s exploits as a precocious kid who could pick up a crocodile. For his youth, we are currently being served a web-series that talk about his life during the dark days of Emergency. And, for his political journey, Vivek Oberoi is ready with a biopic that has Modi single-handedly pulverising his political adversaries before destroying Pakistan.

But, for a leader of the PM’s stature and struggle, only a 24×7 channel that covers his life like the Truman Show could have done justice, not itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny films or comic strips.

Marketing gimmick?

The defining mantra of marketing these days is: if you have a devoted audience, bhakts in this case, that thinks with its heart not with its head, anything can be sold. This stellar business philosophy was the inspiration behind many ventures in the past. A decade ago, when the entire country was singing with him, Himesh Reshammiya decided to make the most of it by producing a film in which he was the lead actor, music director, lead singer—well everything except the girl he romanced. Self-proclaimed godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim got influenced by the legion of his devotees and started producing films showcasing his multiple talents, convinced that if people can come to his ashrams from far away for a glimpse of him, they would readily flock to theatres to watch him for three hours. Reshammiya and Ram Rahim may not be the right examples, but at least the idea was worth trying because the soundness of its theory.

The opposition’s objection to NaMo TV is irrational and illogical. How does it matter who is funding the channel when it really doesn’t bother the voter how mega rallies—sometimes bigger than rock concerts—by politicians are financed? How does it matter if it’s a TV channel, a publicity platform, a bird or a plane when it is about our superman? Instead of cribbing and complaining, Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi should immediately consider the launch of their own channels. The Congress chief, in fact, has a name tailor-made for a channel where his fans can sing paeans to him. While the bhakts chant NaMo-NaMo, Gandhi’s fans can sing their own RaGa.

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