Hyderabad: Activists of the ruling Congress party Sunday staged massive protests against Sakshi television channel, owned by party MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, for airing a story criticising party president Sonia Gandhi.
A large number of activists gathered outside the Sakshi head office in Banjara Hills here demanding an apology from Jaganmohan Reddy, who also owns a newspaper by the same name.
Holding flags of the Congress party and posters of Sonia Gandhi, the protestors burnt copies of the newspaper and sat on the road disrupting traffic.
Police arrested the protestors, who raised slogans against the Kadapa MP, son of former chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.
Health Minister D Nagender and IT Minister K. Venkat Reddy staged a sit-in at the statue of YSR near City Central here as a mark of protest against the Sakshi programme.
Protestors attacked the office of Sakshi at Chirala in Prakasam district. A reporter of the newspaper and a constable were injured and window panes damaged in the stone pelting.
The Telugu channel and daily Saturday carried stories on the affairs of the Congress criticizing Sonia Gandhi`s leadership in the wake of scams in the Commonwealth Games contracts and 2G spectrum allocation.
The story aired Friday night was repeated Saturday.
It blamed Sonia Gandhi`s "poor leadership" for teh party`s rout in various states, termed her an "uninspiring speakerd".
It also attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing him as "Sonia Gandhi`s rubber stamp".
Sakshi`s CEO Priyadarshini Ram, however, denied airing any anti-Sonia Gandhi story.
He clarified that it was "only a biographical sketch" of the leader and a "reflection of media reports" on the party`s performance in various states and the recent scams.
The central leadership of the Congress party has reportedly taken a strong note of the Sakshi story and has sought a report from state Congress chief D Srinivas. Party sources said the issue was likely to come up for discussion in the Congress core committee meeting in Delhi Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, the Sakshi story has evoked strong reactions from party leaders in the state. Senior leaders and ministers have condemned the story.
Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member V Hanumantha Rao has demanded a ban on Sakshi. Congress national secretary P Sudhakar Reddy has said he would lodge a complaint with the Press Council of India.
Chief Minister K Rosaiah has already condemned the story. In a statement Saturday night he said the story was highly distorted with malice and was far from truth.
"It is highly deplorable and reprehensive to comment adversely on her early life which is not resorted to even by the worst opponents," he said.
The Congress leaders opposed to Jagan said the story was aimed at targeting Sonia Gandhi for not making him the chief minister after his father`s death in a helicopter crash in September last year.
Defying Sonia Gandhi, the Kadapa MP has been visiting different parts of the state to console family members of those who died of shock or committed suicide following his father`s death.
Reacting sharply to suspension of his loyalists from the party, the young MP had recently warned the party leadership not to test his patience.