Days before the first session of the 16th Lok Sabha commences, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has decided to “limit the tenure” of Lok Sabha Television’s Chief Executive Officer Rajiv Mishra till May 31.
Mishra, while acknowledging that his contract had been extended on December 15, 2013 “until further orders”, however, has alleged that his service was being terminated because Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar was annoyed after the channel flashed the news of her losing from Sasaram on the counting day on May 16.
Meira Kumar could not be reached for comments but Lok Sabha Secretariat sources said Mishra’s tenure ended in December 2013 and it had to be extended till “further orders” but once the Speaker’s tenure was over, Mishra’s term also had to end. The sources pointed out that the words “termination” or “sacking” were nowhere mentioned in the notification issued on the matter.
“In continuation of this Secretariat Notification No. GN-6787 dated 17th December 2013, the Speaker has limited the tenure of Shri Rajiv Mishra as Chief Executive of LSTV till 31st May 2014,” the May 30 notification posted on Lok Sabha intranet said.
Mishra called the move unethical. “I’ve been told unofficially that my termination has happened because the Honourable Speaker was annoyed because we flashed the news of her loss from Sasaram on the counting day,” Mishra told The Sunday Express. “We were live from 8 am to 11 pm that day and once we received the news of this result, we waited and ran it only after we got a confirmation from the Election Commission. In fact, almost all other channels had run the news by then.”
“What is wrong in running a news flash? I need to be unbiased and objective as a journalist,” he said, adding the move was “completely unparliamentary” given the fact that the order was issued at a time when Kumar had just 48 hours left as the Speaker.
“You choose a CEO after a 11-month-long process and you sack him like this? I was not even given the termination letter. I got to know that the order had been posted on the Lok Sabha intranet. I need to be told what my fault is,” Mishra said. He has sought an appointment with Kumar.
Mishra also said he had “unofficially” been informed that Kumar was also unhappy with a programme called “Janadesh 2014” — whose content had a lot of common voices, at times against the government — on LSTV. “I have been told that she was also unhappy with our coverage of the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting in the Central Hall,” he said.