BJD boycotts Jay Panda’s Odisha TV, says it has ‘lost its neutrality’https://indianexpress.com/article/india/bjd-boycotts-jay-pandas-odisha-tv-says-it-has-lost-its-neutrality-5107084/

BJD boycotts Jay Panda’s Odisha TV, says it has ‘lost its neutrality’

BJD media chief and Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Keshari Deb alleged that OTV’s bias was particularly evident during the Bijepur bypoll, which was held in February. Deb said the party had brought the matter to the notice of the Election Commission as a case of “paid news”.

BJD boycotts Jay Panda's Odisha TV
In response to allegations, Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda tweeted, “Sad. OTV never suppresses any story.” (Express Photo/Tashi Tobgyal/File)

The BJD has decided to lock horns with regional news channel in Odisha, with the party announcing it will not participate in news panels of Odisha TV.

BJD media chief and Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Keshari Deb in a press meet on Wednesday said, “OTV has lost its neutrality. It is our decision that we will not participate in OTV’s discussions and news events. We are open to reversing our decision provided OTV becomes neutral again”.

Deb also accused the channel of indicting the government on every issue, whether true or not. He said that “this is a perception of not just BJD and its supporters, but the wider public. Our spokespersons are not given time to respond during panel discussions. We have communicated this on a personal level, but nothing was done”.

He alleged that OTV’s bias was particularly evident during the Bijepur bypoll, which was held in February. Deb said the party had brought the matter to the notice of the Election Commission as a case of “paid news”.

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Deb directly linked OTV’s alleged bias to the suspension of Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda from the BJD in January. Panda was suspended after the party accused him of conflicts of interest and anti-party activities, which he denied. Jagi Mangat Panda, wife of Baijayant, is the co-founder of the Bhubaneswar-based, privately owned news channel, as per her Twitter profile. Jagi Panda was not available for comment.

“Especially after suspension of Panda, these trends have been noticed. They have also promoted his tweet and his public events, not other MPs,” Deb said.

Panda, on Thursday, took to Twitter to issue a response. “Sad. OTV never suppresses any story, shows every allegation against ALL parties (incl me too!) while providing enuf chance to respond/clarify. BJD had no issue until allegations agnst Pandian (to which he/BJD refuse to respond!). My advice: clarify allegations instd of boycotting”.

Opposition parties in Odisha have criticised BJD’s boycott of OTV. Terming Deb’s press meeting “unfortunate”, Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, “Not participating in public debate is like killing democracy”. “BJP condemns this move. If there is no fear, then face the media”, said state spokesperson Sajjan Sharma.