Monday, April 6, 2009

Election reality shows in Kerala turning into battlegrounds


Thiruvananthapuram: Poll-related TV reality shows in Kerala are turning into slugfests, with police using batons to restore order and channels winding up the shoot midway to avoid damage to crew and equipment.

Asianet, the State’s premier vernacular channel, had to abandon the shoot in the northern Kozhikode town for its show, ‘Porkalam’ (Arena) on Wednesday, as supporters of CPM candidate Mohammed Riyaz charged at Congress candidate M K Raghavan.

If his supporters had not walled him in, Raghavan would have suffered a few blows from “SFI and DYFI activists”. The latter have denied involvement but the footage nails the lie.

Youths started hooting and howling as the CPM rebel candidate took questions from the audience. CPM candidate Mohammed Riyaz, in spite of his assurance, did not turn up. “You can’t run this show without our leader”, shouted a Mohammed Riyaz supporter and the rest joined in.

The anchor tried to explain but the youths grew restive and finally lunged towards the podium, targeting Raghavan. The police enjoyed the “show” from sidelines as if they didn’t want to

court trouble.

Sources said Riyaz was advised by top CPM leaders to keep off to avoid questions about his alleged patron and real estate agent, Faris Abubacker.

But the first such incident this season was at Janasamaksham (Before the People), organised by Amrita TV in northern Palakkad town when the BJP and CPM activists traded blows. The saffron brigade sprung into action when a CPM activist fired a question at former BJP State president C K Padmanabhan on Varun Gandhi. Chairs flew, forcing candidates to flee. In the adjacent Alathur (Scheduled Castes) reserved constituency, a BJP youth leader landed in hospital after his misadventure at the Manorama programme, Kodipada, (Flag carriers). The provocation was a simple question to CPM candidate and SFI all-India president P K Biju: “Why is the monthly farmer pension just Rs200 when your government is paying the madrassa teacher Rs4,000?”

The police resorted to lathi-charge as the groups clashed. BJP candidate Bindu had to stage a sit-in at the police station demanding the arrest of

the miscreants.

In the southern town of Kottayam, three people were injured at the Asianet show. A Congress worker asked CPM candidate Suresh Kurup, MP, his achievements on the development front. But Kurup’s supporters dealt him a few blows in reply.

Out of the four such reality shows recorded at Kottayam, two were marred by chair-throwing.

In Malappuram, where a fierce battle is on between rival Muslim parties, Junior External Affairs Minister E Ahmed was blocked and his CPM rival, T K Hamza, MP, got a pin prick on the elbow. The show, Kurukshetra, was organized by India Vision channel.

Channel honchos, who took the indoor reality shows to the outdoors for better TRP ratings, are ruing the decision. Even with a strong posse of policemen, the crowd is unmanageable, posing a direct threat to the anchors

and camera. At a show in Kochi, the CPM supporters vent their ire at the anchor, who they thought was siding with the rival candidate. Rival party workers first display their lung power and the losing side picks up chairs and whatever comes handy, converting the venue into a battleground.

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