U-turn: Jagan's channel deletes anti-Sonia remarks
A day after airing a news story criticising the Congress and its chief Sonia Gandhi, Sakshi television channel owned by Kadapa Member of Parliament Y S Jaganmohan Reddy took a U-turn on Sunday, re-telecasting it after deleting adverse references to her and claiming that it had not targeted her.
Though Sakshi TV announced that the 8 am show scheduled on Sunday would be a 're-telecast' of the episode aired on Friday night (and repeated on Saturday morning), viewers got to see a version that was totally different from the earlier one. The anchor-part as well as the voice-over in today's story was clearly recorded afresh while all the adverse remarks against Sonia were deleted.
The bold headlines that criticised Sonia as well as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were dropped. The master title of the programme 'Hastagatam' became 'Congress@125' in today's telecast.
At the same time, Sakshi CEO Priyadarshini Ram said the story was not against either Gandhi or Dr Singh and maintained that there was no intervention by Jagamnohan with regard to the content of the TV channel.
Image: Congress MP Jaganmohan
'Sakshi is a balanced and independent media'
"It was not a story against either Sonia Gandhi or Manmohan Singh. It was a current story that was based on the 125 years of the Congress party and how it was faring. Jaganmohan Reddy, on the day of the inauguration of this media house, made one specific statement saying that this channel would be unbiased, truthful and clear-headed. There is no effort from Jaganmohan Reddy or intervention by him on the content of Sakshi television," Ram said.
Sakshi also showed a clipping of the channel's inaugural function wherein Jagan sought to assert that his media has nothing to do with the Congress.
"Sakshi is a balanced and independent media. It has no affiliation with any political party," Jagan had said. Highlighting this statement, Sakshi claimed that it telecast the (Friday's) episode on Sonia "as an independent media. Our analysis on Sonia and Congress party was in line with our independent stance."
Image: Jagan with CM K Rosaiah in happier times
'Sonia is not a good orator'
"We never criticised Sonia Gandhi," the channel claimed late on Saturday night even as a host of Congress bigwigs, including Chief Minister K Rosaiah, former Chief Minister N Janardhana Reddy, several state ministers and Pradesh Congress Committee chief D Srinivas strongly condemned the 'blasphemous story'.
The special story on Friday was telecast to mark the 125th anniversary celebrations of the Congress. It had said the grand old party was on a 'rapid degeneration' across the country and even Sonia herself was facing rough weather in Rae Bareilly constituency.
"Sonia is not a good orator and cannot address a gathering fluently. Her mass following is on the decline," it had said.
"Sonia is neither the president of India nor the prime minister but she is dictating the politics of the country," the headlines read, even as several critical remarks were made against her in the voice-over.
Image: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi
'Sonia stood tall and emerged a powerful leader'
"He has been just a rubber stamp," Sakshi had remarked, taking potshots at Manmohan Singh in the light of the recent observations of the Supreme Court in the 2G spectrum case.
However, all these remarks were deleted in the fresh episode telecast today morning.
The episode, on the other hand, referred to the various allegations faced by the Congress governments and the criticism of Sonia Gandhi on a host of issues, including her foreign origin.
"But still, Sonia stood tall and emerged a powerful leader," the voice-over noted.
Chief Minister K Rosaiah told newsmen on Sunday morning that he had seen the original episode telecast on Sakshi in full. "There is no ambiguity in it. I condemned it only after seeing the episode," he said.
Congress sources said a video CD of the episode as well as the translated transcript of the story have already been dispatched to New Delhi for perusal by the high command. The Congress has taken serious note of the issue.
"The party has sought a report from the state unit on the issue (telecast of a programme on Sakshi television channel)," All India Congress Committee media department chairman Janardhan Dwivedi said.
Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said a view on the issue would be taken once the report is received from the state unit.
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh