Narendra Modi compares `DD censoring his interview` to Emergency-era suppression

Amid the raging controversy over state broadcaster Doordarshan editing out portions of his interview before telecast, BJP`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the development reminded him of the Emergency.

By Deepak Nagpal | Last Updated: May 03, 2014, 12:54 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal

Gandhinagar/New Delhi: Amid the raging controversy over state broadcaster Doordarshan editing out portions of his interview before telecast, BJP`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Saturday said that the development reminded him of the Emergency.

Writing on social networking site Twitter, Modi said that the suppression of freedom of the press was a “blot on our democracy”.

Modi`s reaction came on the World Press Freedom Day today.

Modi`s reaction came minutes after BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said that the government had instructed Prasar Bharti – the semi-autonomous body which runs Doordarshan and All India Radio - to black out Modi.

“Prasar Bharti was given clear political instructions to black out Modi ji and focus on Rahul Gandhi,” Naidu said.

However, defending the government and the national broadcaster, Congress` Rashid Alvi today said, “All channels edit and run interviews as they like. Why is there no discussion on fixed interviews?”
After initial denial, Prasar Bharti CEO Jawhar Sircar had yesterday admitted that some portions of the interview were edited out.

In a hard-hitting letter, Sircar acknowledged that certain portions of the Narendra Modi interview on Doordarshan "were apparently edited" and pointed a finger at Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari for failing to grant the public broadcaster "operational autonomy" that it has been seeking for years.

Sircar, who in the past too has taken on the minister over interference in functioning of Prasar Bharati, pointed to the interference the government can have in the form of transfers, appointments and punitive actions regarding Prasar Bharati officials.

In his reaction, Tewari pleaded ignorance.

"I have not seen the letter. It was not addressed to me, so how am I supposed to comment," the minister said.

On Thursday, Tewari had said: "Prasar Bharati is an autonomous broadcaster and is governed by an act of Parliament. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has an arms-length relationship with the broadcaster. We do not interfere in their news agenda."

Doordarshan had edited out portions from Modi`s interview where he had referred to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as “like his daughter” and to Ahmed Patel - Congress president Sonia Gandhi`s political advisor – as “a good friend”.