To say Arnab is ‘controversial’ is like saying that water is wet. However, after having embarked on his new venture, ‘Republic TV’, the firebrand news anchor seems to have more freedom to indulge his politically opportunistic and sycophantic side. Following the Centre’s ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter (popularly reported as a ‘beef ban’), Arnab has… opinions. The ban has met widespread criticism (even though several high courts have upheld it), with commenters calling it a further attack on the secular nature of India, an attempt to uphold Brahminical supremacy as a governing principle, and an attack on Muslim minorities and workers who subsist on the sale of cattle. There have also been protests in the form of beef eating festivals and open cow slaughter.
Whether the protests are in line with the actual government order is a debatable matter. Arnab, however, believes that there is nothing ‘secular’ about the eating of beef – that it is a violation of Hindu beliefs and deliberate provocation of Hindus – and therefore it has no place in a ‘secular’ country, especially as a form of protest.
This, however, is in stark and hilarious contrast to the Arnab of the Times Now/Newshour era, who made some rather sound points following the Maharashtra beef ban. He called into question the very idea of banning a particular food source for an entire nation, based on the religious customs of a particular community. The video above, made by Gaurav Pandhi, a member of Congress’ Digital Communication Team, juxtaposes these two very different faces of Arnab to show what happens when Arnab’s own silencing tactics in arguments, and flip-flopping beliefs, are turned against him. What emerges is a very interesting picture of a man caught between personal beliefs and political opportunism.