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The Rediff Special/Bhaskar Ghose
'You are very lucky you aren't working for me!'
October 11, 2005
Have you read the Introduction to the series?
Have you read The prime minister and the fly?
Read on for former Doordarshan Director General Bhaskar Ghose's startling accounts of his encounters with India's then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
In this extract from his readable memoir Doordarshan Days, Ghose recounts his run-in with T N Seshan -- later the country's chief election commissioner -- after Rajiv was attacked by a Sri Lankan sailor in Colombo.
There were some occasions when I met Rajiv Gandhi. There were also a number of messages relayed to me through various sources (from him): sometimes the minister (of information and broadcasting) would tell me that Rajiv was not happy with such and such programme, or sometimes I was informed by the secretary (of the ministry) of some observation about a particular programme Rajiv had made. Occasionally the phrase 'the prime minister desires' was dispensed with and the instructions of the functionary in the prime minister's office were delivered to me directly.
During the ceremonial send off, he had to perform the usual inspection of the guard of honour at the airport. As he was doing so, a naval rating (sailor), who was part of the guard of honour contingent, reversed his rifle and tried to hit Rajiv on the head with it. Had he succeeded it may well have proved fatal. More than anything else it was Rajiv's own agility and quick reflexes that saved him. He darted to one side and at the same time the officer in charge of the guard of honour leapt at the man and pushed him aside, an act that caused the blow to lose some of its force. Nevertheless the rifle struck Rajiv a glancing blow on his shoulder. A split second later one of his Special Protection Group (that look after Indian VIP's security) men grabbed the rating and threw him to the ground.
Then the poor cameraman in his nervousness couldn't locate the particular cassette that he had used. He had taken it out of the camera and put it with all the other tapes used to film the entire trip and couldn't find it in the heap of cassettes in his bag. If he hadn't been harried by Seshan he probably would have been able to locate it quickly enough, but with an angry Seshan breathing down his neck he fumbled for a few minutes. By the time he found it, Seshan had reached boiling point. He raged at the poor man, called him all kinds of names and assured him of the most severe punishment once they reached Delhi.
True to his threat, he rang me up as soon as he got to Delhi.
He had merely said he didn't have a VCR, which was true, and then hadn't been able to find the cassette with the footage of the attack quickly enough. This again was understandable; there were some 50 or 60 cassettes since he had covered every bit of the visit. I rang Seshan and told him that I didn't think it was necessary to take any action against the cameraman because he had done nothing wrong.
He hung up.
Don't miss the final feature in the series: When Rajiv sacked Ghose from Doordarshan
To order Doordarshan Days online click here
Excerpted with the publisher's permission from Doordarshan Days by Bhaskar Ghose, Penguin Books India, Rs 395.
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