NEW DELHI: The Left Front government in Tripura and Prasar Bharati clashed on Tuesday after Doordarshan and All India Radio refused to broadcast the customary Independence Day address of Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar, advising him to “reshape” the speech after it was recorded by the chief minister.
The public broadcasters did not air Sarkar’s six-minute speech which was scheduled to be aired at 6.30am on Tuesday after the Sarkar government refused to make changes.
TOI is in possession of the letter that was sent by Prasar Bharati to Akashbani Agartala in which assistant director of programmes (policy) for director general, Sanjiv Dosajh, said, “Keeping in view the sanctity and solemnity attached with the occasion the broadcast is meant for, the CEO, Prasar Bharati was also consulted and the collective decision taken at Delhi advises that the broadcast may not go with its existing content. AIR/Prasar Bharati will however be more than happy if the Hon’ble Chief Minister agrees to reshape the content making it suitable to the solemnity of the occasion and sentiments of the people of India at large.”
Sarkar, in his unaired speech, a copy of which TOI has in its possession, said, “Unity in diversity is India’s traditional heritage. Great values of secularism have helped in keeping Indians together as a nation. Today, the spirit is under attack. Conspiracies and attempts are underway to create an undesirable complexity and divisions in our society; to invade our national consciousness in the name of religion, caste and community, by inciting passions to convert India into a particular religious country and in the name of protecting the cow.”
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The Tripura CM, who has commandeered the north-eastern state for the last 19 years, also said, “These unholy tendencies cannot be harboured or tolerated. These disruptive attempts are contrary to the goals, dreams and ideals of our freedom struggle. The followers of those who are not associated with the independence movement, rather sabotaged the freedom movement, were servile to the atrocious, plunderer and merciless British, aligned with the anti-national forces having decorated themselves today in different names and colours are striking at the root of unity and integrity of India.”
The decision to drop the CM’s speech triggered a war of words with CPM accusing BJP of using their “nefarious nexus with TMC and IPFT” to gain ground in the poll-bound north-eastern state. “Modi government should refrain from using Prasar Bharati as a department of the ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” rather than an autonomous body, the CPM politburo said in a statement.
Reacting to the CPM’s allegations, a senior government functionary said, “No rule was violated and the call was taken by the broadcasters, at their own level. DD or AIR was not nudged to act in a certain way. If that had been the case, we would have had problems with other chief ministers as well.” There was no response to TOI’s repeated attempts to reach Prasar Bharati chairman A Surya Prakash for a comment.