Escalating the controversy over his interview to Doordarshan, Narendra Modi Saturday rued the “decline” in journalistic freedom in the public broadcaster and invoked “horrific” memories of the Emergency days in 1975.
The BJP’s PM candidate joined the war over Prasar Bharti editing out certain portions of his interview last Sunday and the subsequent raging controversy that it stoked by the “delayed” telecast. “On days such as these, I feel very sad to see our national TV channel struggling to maintain its professional freedom,” Modi said on Twitter, extending his wishes to journalists on World Press Freedom Day.
Modi did not forget to remind the people of the Emergency imposed by the late Indira Gandhi in 1975 when curbs were placed on the media.
“We have witnessed the horrors of Emergency when freedom of press and freedom of expression were suppressed. It is a blot on our democracy,” Modi said in another tweet. “Greetings to journalists friends on World Press Freedom Day. Free press is a democracy’s cornerstone and must be preserved in letter and spirit,” he said.
A controversy erupted Friday following news reports that Modi had said Priyanka Vadra was like his daughter, remarks that were neither appreciated by her nor by Congress leaders. However, it turned out that Modi had not made any such description.
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The other issue related to his remarks claiming closeness with Ahmed Patel, close aide of Sonia Gandhi. Patel issued a strong rebuttal of these claims. Modi’s remarks on these subjects in the interview were edited out but became public through social media.
While Congress leader Rashid Alvi said a “big fuss” was being made of the issue which relates to editorial freedom while some other commentators have accused both the BJP and the Congress of misusing Doordarshan whenever opportunities came.
Reacting to the controversy, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said, “My attention has been drawn to the news reports which have appeared in a section of the press with regard to Prasar Bharti.I had stated earlier and allow med to underscore and reiterate that the autonomy of he Prasar Bharti is guaranteed by an act of Parliament”.