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‘Sweets were distributed in DD News office when US denied visa to Narendra Modi’

Not only was there a virtual ban on positive coverage about Narendra Modi and his government in Gujarat during the UPA years, there was an organised campaign against him, Doordarshan anchor and journalist Ashok Shrivastav has written in his book.

How the dedicated news arm of the national broadcaster – called Doordarshan News or DD News – was misused by the UPA government between the years 2004-2014 has been revealed in a book titled “Narendra Modi Censored” written by DD news anchor and journalist Ashok Shrivastav.

The book is primarily about an interview of Narendra Modi that was aired on DD News in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It was conducted by Ashok Shrivastav but was aired after much delay and blatant attempts to censor it.

Even after airing, it got mired in controversies as Times of India spread misinformation about what was censored by DD News, possibly on orders of those in powers. In course of recalling the string of incidents around that interview, Ashok Shrivastav also reveals in his book how a public institution was used to target a political opponent by the Congress party.

The book reveals that once UPA came to power in 2004, a special cell was constituted in DD News to run news stories, documentaries, programs etc. to target Narendra Modi, especially around the 2002 post-Godhra riots. Not everyone was allowed to walk into this cell which was housed in room no. 123. Controversial ‘activist’ Teesta Setalvad was a special and regular visitor to the cell.

“They used to joke that Narendra Modi will go 9-2-11 (a Hindi phrase meaning an act of running away) due to this 1-2-3 cell,” Ashok writes in his book.

This special cell also used to create content in support of UPA government’s programs and policies and had become a ‘power centre’ in Doordarshan, the book says. The cell, supposed to do journalistic work, even used to celebrate Sonia Gandhi’s birthday on December 9 by distributing sweets, much to the embarrassment of many.

What embarrassed and shocked Ashok Shrivastav and some other journalists working at DD News no end, was when this cell distributed sweets in the wake of Narendra Modi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, being denied visa by the United States back in 2005.

However, no one spoke anything against such practices as the cell had a Congress member as ‘consultant’ and employees at Doordarshan had witnessed how dozens of journalists – primarily those who had joined along with Deepak Chaurasia – were forced to resign once UPA came to power in 2004.

The book claims that during the 2007 Gujarat assembly elections, Doordarshan’s team of reporters was taking editorial orders from this ‘consultant’ and Teesta Setalvad. The special powers of this cell were diluted after the 2009 Lok Sabha elections – possibly due to internal politics of Congress, Ashok writes – though it continued to target Modi.

Doordarshan continued to unofficially ban any good news about Narendra Modi or good work done by his Gujarat government, and thus it was hugely surprising for Ashok Shrivastav when the public broadcaster gave a go-ahead for the interview of Narendra Modi. However, this surprise was followed by many shocking incidents, about which Ashok has written in detail in his book “Narendra Modi Censored”.

The book, written in Hindi, is a good reminder of how much ‘free’ media was under Congress rule and how the current cries of ‘media under attack’ or ‘institutions under attack’ are mostly politically or ideologically motivated propaganda.

The book also reminds and vividly recounts the how Priyanka Gandhi was propped up even in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and there were even speculations of her fighting the elections from Varanasi against Narendra Modi. The same incidents are being repeated again now in the run up to 2019 elections.

You can buy the book “Narendra Modi Censored” on Amazon by clicking here.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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