Less than a week back, former NDTV journalist Barkha Dutt had gone public with her grouse against NDTV over censorship and termed the news channel’s stand on free press and free speech as sham. Although Barkha has been distancing herself from NDTV right from the time when CBI had raided Prannoy Roy’s residences, her latest salvo comes after NDTV removed an article that was seen as making baseless accusations against BJP President Amit Shah’s son.
The said article was written by a journalist named Srinivasan Jain of NDTV, and he had tried to take a moral high ground over removal of his article. Instead of accepting that his article could be erroneous or defamatory, Jain went on to preach about good journalism and free speech.
This led Barkha Dutt to hit back and term the free speech crusaders of NDTV as ‘fake liberals’. She cited how NDTV had censored her interview with Chidambaram and another interview done by NDTV journalist Nitin Gokhale, who too has exposed NDTV as an organisation full of nepotism.
Later she even claimed that NDTV honchos were trying to reach out to BJP – in some apparent way to make peace through backdoor negotiations – while feigning to fight against the party at Press Club.
Now she has written yet another Facebook post where she has tried to answer some who found fault with her for attacking NDTV, and at the same time she has revealed some shocking details.
In her Facebook post, Barkha Dutt has claimed that NDTV dropped the story on National Herald – the case, which BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has been arguing as an example of personal corruption of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi through Congress party, for which he is demanding conviction of Gandhis and cancellation of Congress party’s recognition. Barkha wonders why the story was dropped when there were no defamation suits involved.
She further reveals that NDTV had made her delete some parts of her interview with author Taslima Nasreen, who is known to be a vocal critic of Islam and also attacks the ‘liberal and secular’ community of India for their double standards.
She also answers her critics, who presumably asked why she was speaking so late. She claims that she has been speaking for long, even when she was at NDTV. She further claims that her ‘hacked emails’ can prove it. Perhaps Barkha is hinting at NDTV Twitter account hacks that had taken place last year, and the hacker group ‘Legion’ had claimed that they will put all the emails in public, though nothing like that happened.
However, arguably the biggest bomb Barkha drops on NDTV is her mention of Radia tapes controversy. She claims that NDTV had done no favours to her or defended her when she got huge lot of bad PR on social media and even on some mainstream media platforms after her conversation with corporate lobbyist Niira Radia were leaked.
She points out – and rightly so – that the fact that NDTV got loans after Niira Radia talked about helping NDTV founder Prannoy Roy has not been discussed as widely as her conversation with Radia.
For those who don’t know, leaked Radia tapes suggest that on 9th July 2009, Niira Radia had told a journalist named MK Venu – who incidentally is currently associated with the website The Wire, which originally tried to insinuate corruption by Amit Shah’s son – that “We need to support Prannoy”.
You can listen to the conversation below:
Here is a portion of the Radia-Venu conversation. “We need to support Prannoy” is what Radia said on 9th July 2009. (date very imp). 2/5 pic.twitter.com/0pZRIiHwQR
— Akhilesh Mishra (@amishra77) June 9, 2017
Within a couple of weeks of the above purported conversation where Radia tells Venu that Prannoy needs to be supported, NDTV is reported to have received Rs. 350 crore as loan by a company that was a Reliance subsidiary then. Was it mere a coincidence or NDTV was raising money through lobbyists is subject to probe.
Referring to this incident, Barkha wonders that if she could open herself to questions in a one-hour long TV show, why can’t NDTV promoters do the same? This is exactly what she writes:
“Secondly, while we are on the tapes how many people know that Ms Radia speaks on the tapes of helping NDTV owners – the nearly 400 crores loan came thereafter. The Caravan story on NDTV sought to credit / blame me for this loan when I argued that all I spoke to her about was a news story and I gained nothing more than information. Caravan was wrong: I knew nothing about that loan till much much later when news media reported it. And since I have never held a management position or a financial one ever, even while being a full time employee, I was never going to be made part of any such negotiation. So when we speak of the Radia issue, let’s also examine her role in the financial help she speaks of offering NDTV owners. Haven’t heard much debate on that have we? I wonder why.”
It will be interesting to see if Roys or NDTV will now react to this latest salvo by Barkha. And perhaps this also explains why Barkha Dutt was curiously silent when most of the celebrity journalists were screaming in support of NDTV when CBI raided Roys to probe about financial dealings of the company. She suspected some wrongdoings or found something amiss?
Are more skeletons waiting to tumble out of NDTV cupboard?