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CPM attacks Centre over DD’s refusal to air Tripura CM’s I-Day speech

india Updated: Aug 16, 2017 23:55 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran 
Smriti Kak Ramachandran 
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
CPM,Doordarshan,Independence Day

Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar inspects 71st Independence Day parade in Agartala on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

The CPI (M) and the Union government seem headed for a face-off over public broadcaster, Doordarshan’s decision to not air a pre-recorded speech of Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar. The CPI(M) termed the decision as “authoritarian”.

Addressing media persons on Thursday, CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Doordarshan and All India Radio refused to air Sarkar’s speech, recorded on August 12, asking him to “reshape it.”

“The Vijaydashmi speech of RSS leader is shown live on Doordarshan. On that there is no objection. He is not an elected member, does not hold an elected office and not answerable to the people of India but his speech was nationally telecasted,” Yechury said.

While Doordarshan’s Agartala unit reacted to CPI (M)’s allegation and denied blacking out Sarkar’s Independence Day speech, they declined to comment on whether a pre-recorded speech, where the Tripura CM had lashed out at the central government was dropped from transmission.

In the speech, a copy of which was released by Yechury, the Tripura CM had lashed out against the union government for following policies that are not in sync with India’s traditional heritage of unity in diversity. Sarkar also remarked that his government’s policies were different from the “anti-people” policy of the government at the Centre.

Yechury appealed to all non BJP state governments to come together to resist the attack by the Centre. “This is a brazen attack on the Federal equation between Centre and states. PM and cronies cannot order state CMs on speaking to the citizens,” he said.

Even as he accused the government of enforcing “partisan misuse of state machinery”, the public broadcaster asserted that Sarkar’s speech was relayed for 12 minutes.

In a clarification letter, UK Sahoo, head of the DD unit in Agartala said the programme was “given wide coverage to the public address of the chief minister and the development activities of the State Government”. The letter further said the programme telecast on August 15 at 7 pm, ran up to 29 minutes and 45 seconds, out of which Sarkar’s speech coverage was for 12 minutes.

The programme was aired again on August 16 at 4:45 pm, Sahoo claimed.

A Tripura government press statement alleged that Doordarshan and AIR had recorded Sarkar’s speech on August 12. On Tuesday, at 7pm, the Chief Minister’s office was informed through a letter that his speech would not be broadcast unless he “reshaped it”.

First Published: Aug 16, 2017 23:55 IST