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Did Anant Kumar Hegde address an empty crowd?

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Lakshmisha K S
Lakshmisha K S
Founder - Namo Brigade, Management Consultant, Amateur Economist, Politically Conservative and believer in the supremacy of facts, NITK-Surathkal, XLRI alumnus

Last Sunday 22nd July, Union minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship Anant Kumar Hegde was the chief guest for the inauguration of NaMo Bharath organization in Davanagere. Anant Kumar Hegde as befits the occasion addressed the crowd of volunteers and the general public. However, even before the event had started, regional mainstream media started peddling fake news to propagate their preconceived agenda.

As one of the founding members of NaMo Bharath, this is a first-hand account of the turn of events.  NaMo Bharath is newly formed organization of volunteers who aim to work in support of Narendra Modi in Karnataka. The aim is to mobilize volunteers across Karnataka in order to help Modi win 28/28 seats in Karnataka thus contributing to BJP’s Mission 365+. It is an independent and self-funded organization comprising mostly of young professionals and students.

Anant Kumar Hegde travelled from New Delhi to Davanagere on the day of the event. He was expected to reach Davanagere a few hours before the event, visit the IB (Inspection Bungalow) to freshen up and head for the event.

However, a few alleged members of DSS (Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti) were planning to ambush the minister at the IB to protest against his earlier remark on changing the constitution. They were thus hiding inside few rooms in the upper flow. Luckily the police found something suspicious and upon checking the rooms identified the  protesters, arrested them and took them away from the premise. All of this took place luckily before the minister reached Davanagere.

The most surprising aspect was that the media immediately arrived at the scene as soon as the arrest was taking place. The news was flashed in many regional channels that there was serious protests against Anant Kumar Hegde. Even though the true scale of this was small, given that there were only 4-5 protesters.  Heavy police deployment was stated as a reason to claim that the situation was tense.

Post this, the minister arrived, freshened up and left for the venue. This is when the media started their  propaganda. They started claiming due to the protests and lack of interest, the response for the event was tepid. That Anant Kumar Hegde addressed empty chair with only half of the Auditorium being filled. Of the Auditorium capacity of 1,000 that there were less than 400 members of audience.

Exhibit 1: Public TV (One of the leading Kannada news channel).  Check their article (a summary of their TV report) on the event hereThe article is in Kannada. The translation is as follows

Header: Empty chairs everywhere

Body: The expectation was for a crowd of 1,000 but only half the seats were filled. There were more than 500 police personnel deployed. 

The implication is that there were more police than the no of people in audience and that the expectations that Anant Kumar Hegde will pull in a large crowd turned out to be false.

In the next section they claim that there were 20 protesters who were arrested protesting against Anant Kumar Hegde. Again there is another pic with empty seats.

 

Exhibit 2: Vijayawani (Leading Kannada News paper) published the following article. The article is in Kannada and makes the same two claims. The headline claims that the minister was left uncomfortable because

  • Half the Auditorium was empty with tepid crowd response
  • There was a big protest with around 20 people. This created an embarrassment for the minister.

But is this the realty?? What is the truth then??

1.  Was the Auditorium empty, the crowd response tepid??

Let the following pictures from the event speak for themselves.

The pics have been selected so as to present a view from every possible angle in the auditorium. As you can see the response was tremendous. The estimated crowd was near 1500+ and not the less than 500 reported by the media.

If one is smart and has a keen eye, you can see how was the media able to twist the facts in the case. Look at the pics circulated by the media and look at the pics during the minister’s speech. You can clearly make out that the media picks were taken much before the event started. It is only surprising why media didn’t turn up the previous day itself and report that the entire auditorium was empty!!. Alas if only if they were smarter.

2. Was there widespread protest against Anant Kumar Hegde??

As discussed earlier, there were 4-6 protesters in the IB. All of them were arrested 30-40 minutes before the minister even reached Davanagere.

Do you see 20 protesters here?? In reality, there are more police personnel than the protesters! In fact, there were more media personnel hoping for an incident then there were protesters.  The minister was hardly even aware of the protest let alone be perturbed by it.

This incident only highlights that even regional media have learnt the tricks of the trade from their English mainstream counterparts. They are no less driven by the need to propagate one’s agenda subsuming facts and reality. It is a sad state of affairs which highlights the rotten and deprived state of the Indian media industry.

PS: If one wants to really check the reality, just listen to Anant Kumar Hegde speaking and the audience response for the same.

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Lakshmisha K S
Lakshmisha K S
Founder - Namo Brigade, Management Consultant, Amateur Economist, Politically Conservative and believer in the supremacy of facts, NITK-Surathkal, XLRI alumnus
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