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Appeasing the Gandhi family? Read how DD under Jawhar Sircar had removed inconvenient parts of PM candidate Modi’s interview during 2014 elections

On April 27, 2014, Doordarshan aired a 30-minute long interview with the then Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in the runup to the Lok Sabha elections. Upon its release, a controversy broke out about how chunks of the 54-minute long interview were edited out by broadcaster Prasar Bharti on the behest of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).

At that point in time, Jawhar Sircar was the CEO of Prasar Bharti. Questions were raised about his integrity and the lack of autonomy of India’s largest public broadcasting agency. The interview, featuring former Gujarat CM and BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi was shot on April 26, 2014, and telecast a day later on April 27. It was followed up with a re-telecast of the interview on April 28. When the video was aired, the BJP raised objection as to how a 54-minute long interview was cut short to just 30 minutes.

Interestingly, his comments about Priyanka Gandhi and Congress leader Ahmed Patel drew the ire of the Congress party so much so that those remarks were omitted in the post-production stage. As such, the 30 minutes long ‘edited’ interview was aired bereft of his commentary on the duo. The content of his interview was not contentious, as seen in the ‘unedited version’, which was uploaded on his Youtube channel on May 1, 2014.

(Video Courtesy: Youtube/ Narendra Modi)

At about 5:16 mins in the interview, the DD News interviewer Ashok Shrivastav had asked Narendra Modi about personal attacks made against him by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. He had responded, “Any daughter for her brother and mother’s victory will do everything. A daughter is after all a daughter, if she does not work for her mother, whom will she do it for? It is her right to work for her mother, to work for her brother. If she hurls ten more curses, then too a daughter is a daughter and as a daughter, whatever she does, I won’t be angry at her.”

At about 15 minutes into the interview, Ashok Shrivastav asked Narendra Modi about his earlier remarks, referring to Gujarat Congress leader Ahmed Patel as ‘Mia Ahmed.’ He answered, “Ahmedbhai is among the best friends I have in Congress but not now… I had a good friendship with him and would have preferred that it had remained so… but he now runs away from me and doesn’t take my calls.”

Citing sources, the Times of India has reported, ” As a measure of abundant caution it was decided to edit out the part where Modi refused to attack Priyanka Gandhi in response to a question, saying she was like his daughter and not a political rival like her mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi.” Priyanka Gandhi had reportedly taken offence to his remark and said, “My father died for this country more than 20 years ago. I loved him more than anyone in the world. I really don’t appreciate this. Enough is enough.”

Jawar Sircar blamed the then Congress govt for editing the interview

Following a public backlash, the then Prasar Bharti CEO had acknowledged that chunks of the interview were edited out for failing to get a ‘balancing interview’ with rival political leaders despite best attempts by DD News. Jawhar Sircar had blamed the then I & B Minister Manish Tewari for failing to grant ‘operational autonomy’ to the public broadcaster. He had pointed out how not giving in to the government’s demands resulted in transfers, and punitive actions.

Jawhar Sircar had lamented that how their initiative to hire ‘external professionals’ for the post of Director General of Doordarshan and All India Radio had failed under the UPA-II regime. He emphasised that had it been done, Prasar Bharti would not have been questioned over its imparitlity and motives over the airing of a single interview.

“In a way, therefore, MIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) lost an opportunity to convince a young minister (Manish Tewari) to break this long traditional linkage between the ministry and the News Division, which has continued unabated even after PB was born and assigned its distinct role in 1997,” he had said. Sircar justified, “I gave him (DG News) the `strength` to go ahead and telecast the interview, even though there were concerns that a `balancing interview` from the other side could not be procured, despite best attempts of DD News.”

Jawhar Sircar shares photoshopped image of PM Modi

On Monday (June 7),  Jawhar Sircar shared a heavily edited image of Prime Minister Modi to insinuate that he goes out of his way to be polite to ‘his friends’.

Sircar tweeted, “Wish fellow parliamentarians and others in politics also received such courtesy and bonhomie — from their permanently-scowling PM. In a mature democracy, we would know the two-way relationship, favours, transactions. Some day, history will tell us,” with an image of PM Modi bowing down politely to a woman whose face appeared that of Nita Ambani, wife of Reliance Group chief Mukesh Ambani.

The image is actually of PM Modi meeting Deepika Mondal, who runs an NGO “Divya Jyoti Cultural Organisation and Welfare Society”. In fact, the above image shared by Sircar has been in circulation since 2015 and has been made viral with claims that the lady in the image is Preeti Adani, wife of Gautam Adani. Sircar then went on to hide the replies to his tweet which fact-checked his fake claims. He has since deleted his tweet.

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Dibakar Dutta
Fascinated by Indian politics

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