Ashutosh driving personal agenda against IBN7 with help from AAP?

It was always rumored in the Delhi media circles that Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, and Ashutosh were asked leave their jobs due to non-performance, but all of them successfully turned their professional failures into stories of personal virtues and values.

This theory is getting credence due to developments in the last few days. The latest being sacking of a senior journalist named Pankaj Shrivastava, apparently because he opposed alleged anti-AAP policy of IBN7. This issue was raised by AAP leader Ashutosh on social media as well as in a press conference.

Rajdeep Sardesai and Ashutosh
Non-performers or martyrs?

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According to reports, Pankaj Shrivastava belonged to a coterie of journalists led by the then Managing Editor of IBN7 Ashutosh, who later joined AAP in January 2014.

This coterie was deriving salaries worth lakhs of rupees per month while the financial health of the channel nosedived. It should be noted that Network18, of which IBN7 is a part of, was forced to layoff journalists on more than two occasions to improve the financial health of the media group.

These layoffs happened before Network18 was acquired by Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Industries Limited. Most of the journalists who lost their jobs belonged to the middle or lower ranks in seniority.

However, journalists like Ashutosh or Pankaj Shrivastava, many of whom support “socialist” ideas on social forums, didn’t say a word then. In fact, they didn’t even offer to take salary cuts to save jobs of a few junior employees.

In fact, Pankaj Shrivastava is reported to have been a fulltime member of CPI(ML) in his younger days, but he didn’t even join the token protest by IBN7 employees who were asked to leave by the then management. He happily continued to draw salaries worth lakhs of rupees per month.

However, when he was asked to leave the channel earlier this week, all his “revolutionary” ideas and ideals came back to him. He immediately found support from his old mate Ashutosh, who tried to link Pankaj’s sacking to politics.

Ashutosh tweeted these to paint Pankaj as some martyr:

However, the truth is something else. According to this report published on Bhadas4Media, Pankaj Shrivastava’s performance was “zero”. It quotes an employee of IBN7, who claims that Pankaj used to visit office only to do “timepass”, which left the management with no choice but to fire him.

It should be noted that Bhadas4Media is run by a journalist named Yashwant Singh, who himself is left-leaning and consistently anti-BJP in his earlier articles on the website. The reports about Pankaj Shrivastava’s sacking have been written by Yashwant Singh himself; thus any claim that the website Bhadas4Media is also BJP or Ambani funded is not valid.

The reports on the website claim that new management, controlled by Reliance, had given six months to old employees drawing huge salaries to perform or perish, and Pankaj appears to fall in the latter category.

But with help of AAP leader Ashutosh, Pankaj is trying to prove that he is a martyr. Not only Ashutosh, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal is also reported to be helping Pankaj in advertising his claim that he was sacked for supporting AAP in IBN7.

While it is natural that AAP will make it a political issue when Delhi assembly elections are near, what is notable is how a journalist is using his contacts and colleagues to hide his professional incompetency and non-performance.

Why could this not be the case when Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Ashtosh and Nikhil Wagle ended their association with Network18? All of them too tried to give a different spin, as Pankaj Shrivastava is doing, while media circles always maintained that they were sacked for non-performance.

Interestingly, all of these journalists keep targeting Network18 periodically, as if waging personal war of grudge for having removed them from their jobs. Ashutosh has been especially consistent in doing so.

While one may argue that such attacks could benefit AAP electorally, one must ask how ethical it is of Ashutosh to drive a personal agenda through the political party he belongs to. And the bigger question is – why is AAP allowing this?

The answer might have been given by former AAP member Shazia Ilmi, who tweeted this earlier today:

What could this “quid pro quo” be? Either Ashutosh paid some money or he extended some favors to AAP as a journalist. We at OpIndia.com believe that the chances of latter could be higher.

So is Shazia hinting that Ashutosh was given Lok Sabha ticket by AAP because he used IBN7 as a propaganda channel for AAP? Apart from non-performance, was that the reason Ashutosh was asked to leave IBN7, after which he resigned and joined AAP?

And guess what, even the latest episode of Pankaj Shrivastava could be a case of “quid pro quo”. Yashwant Singh of Bhadas4Media claims that there is “fixing” between Ashutosh and Pankaj, and Pankaj could soon join AAP and fight elections.

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