Row over Bhagwat telecast; Cong, Left slam govt

SansadTV Bureau

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A controversy broke out on Friday over the live telecast by state broadcaster of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s address at Nagpur with Congress and Left parties slamming the “misuse” of Doordarshan but BJP defended it.

Congress spokesman Sandeep Dikshit termed the hour-long telecast as a “dangerous tradition”, saying RSS is a controversial religious and political organisation.

“It is a dangerous tradition. This is not an organisation which is completely neutral. It is a controversial organisation,” he said, adding it is a political decision of the government.

Congress leader Rashid Alvi said, “This naked state majoritarianism must be resisted.”

Former Union Minister Salman Khurshid said, “We do not accept the record of RSS as being above board in terms of our national aspirations”.

Condemning the live broadcast, CPI (M) said, “The RSS uses the occasion propagate its Hindutva ideology. The national public broadcaster has no business to telecast live the speech of the Chief of an organisation like the RSS.”

The CPI also condemned the live telecast with its National Secretary D Raja saying the government, particularly the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, should give an explanation to the people for allowing DD to be the mouthpiece for the RSS.

He said it was “a disquieting and distressing trend that the country’s secular and democratic values were undermined by the government action.

Historian and commentator Ramchandra Guha said that this “naked state majoritarianism” must be resisted.

“This (showing it live) is a dangerous misuse of the state machinery. The RSS is a sectarian Hindu body. Next, imams in mosques and priests in churches may ask that DD covers their speeches live,” he said in his tweets.

Defending the telecast, BJP’s Shaina N C said the RSS is only a nationalist organisation which believes in ‘India first’ and the country above the interest of any individual.

“I am glad that this speech has been highlighted and people realise that if there is one cadre in the country today that has genuinely contributed to patriotism and nation-building, it is the RSS,” she said.

RSS Chief’s speech covered just like a news event: Doordarshan

Amidst a controversy over the national broadcaster telecasting live a speech of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Doordarshan said on Friday that it was covered like any other news event and no special arrangements had been made.

“It was just like a news event to us. So we covered it,” Doordarshan’s DG (News) Archana Datta said, after the DD’s hour-long live telecast of an RSS function for the first time came under attack from Congress and the Left which accused the government of misusing the state broadcaster.

She said that there was “no special arrangement” that had been made for the event and one of the several Digital Satellite News gathering vans (DSNG) that the broadcaster has in Maharashtra for coverage of the state elections was used for the event.

“We have several DSNG vans in Maharashtra and one such van was used for Nagpur,” Datta said.