With articles and editorials in its mouthpieces embarrassing the BJP government on a number of occasions, RSS has appointed a senior journalist with full control over the editorial content of Organiser and Panchajanya and to ensure that these are brought on all digital platforms. Jagdish Upasane, a former journalist with India Today Group, has taken over as group editor. Hitesh Shankar and Prafulla Ketkar will, however, continue as editors of Panchajanya and Organiser, respectively.
Confirming his appointment, Upasane said he would try to build the weeklies as opinion makers. “Both are opinion magazines. We will publish only deeply researched and factually correct articles. Strong national opinion should emerge on the basis of the contents in the weeklies,” he said.
Upasane will also be working towards making Organiser and Panchajanya active on all digital forums. “They will be more active, vibrant and interactive on all digital platforms, including on mobiles, because that’s the best way to connect with today’s youth,” he said.
Some of the articles published in the weeklies, including one that justified the Dadri lynching and the Mohan Bhagwat interview on the eve of Bihar polls with his comments on caste-based reservations, had embarrassed the BJP and the NDA government. Some political observers said the interview, which appeared in both weeklies, had damaged BJP’s prospects in the Bihar polls, where it eventually faced a humiliating defeat.
“The decision was taken by Bharat Prakashan, which publishes the weeklies. Upasane has been a director of Bharat Prakashan and was also looking after the editorial part. They must have decided to use his experience and regularise his services. It could also be because he could bring more professionalism into the functioning of the publications,” RSS media in-charge Manmohan Vaidya told The Indian Express. “Now he can concentrate more on it,” he added.
Vaidya also added that the media was “taking things out of context” as far as the articles are concerned.
Sources said the party and the government had complaints against the way the weeklies were publishing articles and editorials that caused them embarrassment. A source said the article that stated that those who insist on eating beef want the “freedom to insult Hindus”, which appeared in Organiser in the second week of November, and the “timing of the publishing of Bhagwat’s interview” had “created troubles” for the party and the government.
RSS had to distance itself from the Panchajanya article that justified killing of those who slaughter cows and it disowned the weekly as its official mouthpiece. As BJP’s opponents had made Bhagwat’s quota comments a burning political issue in Bihar, leaders from BJP and RSS had to give several clarifications that he did not speak about the existing reservation system.
“We want more maturity in the articles and editorials,” said a source.