India

Zee News writes to Rahul Gandhi, asks him to end ban of channel

With the Congress’ electoral fortunes changing dramatically and Prime Minister Narendra Modi suffering a dip in his popularity, Zee News has written to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, asking him to end the channel’s boycott. The letter, signed by at least six top executives of the group including Sudhir Chaudhary, has clarified that it was not the mouthpiece of any political party.

The letter read, “We are nobody’s mouthpiece and we refuse to be called so. We also believe in the principles of democratic protests, which is why we are writing to you. This is to politely yet firmly register our protest your party and its spokespersons for routinely indulging in baseless commentaries in self defence.”

It then went on to remind how the Congress party’s interests will be better served by the party sending their spokespersons on the channel. It said, “We speak for no one but this nation. We believe nationalism is a virtue and not a political tag, which unfortunately your party has failed to realise. Your party’s interests would be better served if you advise your party spokespersons to fortify their arguments on TV debates with facts rather than questioning the credibility of the journalists or the channel.”

Stating that the channel encouraged ‘diverse opinions on our platform and would be happy to host your spokespersons in the future,’ it also wished Gandhi luck ‘ for the electoral challenges ahead.’

The Congress had pulled of a coup by defeating the BJP in three states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan last year. All these three states had BJP governments. Since its electoral win in the last year’s assembly polls, Gandhi has adopted an incredibly aggressive attitude towards Modi, while cornering him on the Rafale deal.

Experts say that Modi may struggle returning to power in this year’s Lok Sabha polls. Zee News, however, said that it had written to Gandhi in October last year in the wake of controversy over alleged Pakistan Zindabad slogans in a rally addressed by Navjot Singh Sidhu. A report by DNA, Zee-owned website, claimed on Friday that Gandhi had chosen not to reply to the Zee News letter.

In March 2016, Zee News owner and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP, Subhash Chandra, had taken an extraordinary step to come on a live TV to clarify that his was not a pro-BJP channel.

You can read the full letter by Zee to Rahul Gandhi below.

Dear Shri Rahul Gandhi,

Zee Media needs no introduction, but we would like to offer one.

It’s a media conglomerate that represents, cherishes and fosters the values of ‘Bharat’. The ‘Bharat’ we refers to is not India (comprising of the rich/elitist/pseudo librettists) but the Bharat which is thousands of years old, steeped in values, culture and tradition, which includes its people cutting across Religion, Caste, Creed, Colour, Gender and Regions.

This encompasses the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam- The World is One Family, of Hindutva (not the Hindu religion but the Hindu way of life), of Vaishnava Jan To Te Ne Kahiye Peed Paraayi Jaane Re) of community and pride in one roots and culture.  This is out identity.This is what we’bve always stood for, no matter who is in government and what our ideological principles cost us.

We write to you because your party seems to have mistaken this with the political identity of your rivals. Let me say, Sir, that endorsing ‘Bharat’ doesn’t amount to being beholden to a political ideology. It’s unfortunate that the limited perspective of some individuals cannot distinguish between the two. Nobody can/should appropriate the idea of Bharatiyata. It belongs to all, equally.

We take serious exception to the fact that your party spokespersons routinely brand the Zee network as pro-BJP to wriggle out of difficult arguments. This is a hit and run approach, which is unfair and hence unacceptable to us and certainly unsustainable, politically. We are nobody’s mouthpiece and we refuse to be called so. We also believe in the principles of democratic protests, which is why we are writing to you. This is to politely yet firmly register our protest your party and its spokespersons for routinely indulging in baseless commentaries in self defence. 

We speak for no one but this nation. We believe nationalism is a virtue and not a political tag, which unfortunately your party has failed to realise. Your party’s interests would be better served if you advise your party spokespersons to fortify their arguments on TV debates with facts rather than questioning the credibility of the journalists or the channel.

We encourage diverse opinions on our platform and would be happy to host your spokespersons in the future.

Wish you the very best for the electoral challenges ahead.

Sincerely,

Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor, Zee News, Business, Wion.

Prushottam Vaishnava, Editor, Hindustan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Kalinga, 24 Ghanta, Salaam, Rajasthan

Dinesh Sharma, Editor, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal

Dileep Tiwari, Editor, MP, Chhattisgarh, UP, Uttarakhand

Vijay Kuvalekar, Editor, 24 Taas, 24 Kalak

Brajesh Kumar Singh, Editor, Group Editor, Political Affairs.

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