Hafta 260: Delhi election, Jeff Bezos hack, Coronavirus in China, and more


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In this episode of NL Hafta, Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande, Anand Vardhan, and Mehraj D Lone of Newslaundry are joined by Advaita Kala, novelist and commentator.They talk about the impending Delhi election and the nomination process. In a strange turn of events, Chief Minister Arvind Kerjriwal’s nomination almost didn’t happen because of a backlog of almost a hundred people filing their papers before him. “I mean it was clearly a tactic to delay or harass him or try to ensure he doesn’t contest,” Abhinandan argues. On Kejriwal’s Times Now “town hall”, held earlier this week, Abhinandan wonders if it could be called that. “Did the audience get to ask questions?” he asks. “Someone should tell them that if you do it in a hall doesn’t make it a town hall.” Mehraj points out that criticising raving TV anchors such as RSS (Rahul Shivshankar), Navika Kumar and Arnab Goswami is easy. “These channels, these media organisations are owned by some very wealthy, very rich, very influential people. Why is nobody holding them accountable for this?”Abhinandan notes the BJP’s no-holds-barred campaign strategy in Delhi, citing the hoardings put up by the party across the city. “They are showing things like triple talaq, CAA, surgical strikes,” he says, wondering how smart it’s strategically, “So, desh badlaa ab Delhi badlenge. But none of these things actually address development issues for Delhi!”Anand is convinced that this is because the BJP recognises AAP’s hold on Delhi. “National elections are a combination of addressing tangible and intangible issues but municipal elections focus on the tangible,” he says, noting the BJP doesn’t have much grounds to campaign on development issues in Delhi.Admiring AAP’s smart election tactics, Advaita notes, “We haven’t seen a level of vitriol and nastiness. And that’s because Kejriwal has stuck to, you know, the work that he has done. And on the ground, I do see appreciation for the work that he has done.”In a sidebar on reports of Amazon head Jeff Bezos’s phone being hacked by the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, Manisha muses about the likely motivations for the hack. “It’s because of the Washington Post. MBS was upset with the Post’s reporting, so he leaked Bezos’s affair to the National Enquirer…Turns out he had been sending him WhatsApp viruses.”Mehraj notes the irony of Amazon’s boss being hacked while “running one of the world’s largest surveillance companies”. The panel also discuss the coronavirus in China and the legitimacy of what the Hindu nationalist blog OpIndia publishes as “reporting”, and offer some meta news analysis. Tune in!

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