A day after airing a story critical of Congress and its chief Sonia Gandhi, Sakshi television channel owned by Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy took a U-turn, 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 would be a “re-telecast” of the earlier episode, viewers saw a totally different episode from the earlier one.
The anchor-part as well as the voice-over in re-telecasted episode were clearly recorded afresh while all the adverse remarks against Sonia Gandhi were deleted. The bold headlines that criticised Sonia as well as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too were dropped. The master title of the programme “Hastagatam” became “[email protected]” in the re-telecasted version.
At the same time, Sakshi CEO Priyadarshan Ram said the story was not against either Sonia or Manmohan Singh and maintained that there was no intervention by Jaganmohan with regard to the content of the TV channel.
“It was not a story against…either Ms Sonia Gandhi or Mr Manmohan Singh. It was a current story that was based on the 125 years of the Congress party, how it was faring…
“Mr 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 Mr Jaganmohan Reddy or intervention by him on the content of Sakshi television,” Priyadarshan Ram said.
Sakshi also showed a clipping of the channel’s inaugural function wherein Jagan asserted that his media has nothing to do with Congress.
“Sakshi is a most balanced and independent media. This has no affiliation with any political party,” Jagan said.
Highlighting this statement, Sakshi claimed that it telecasted the episode on Sonia “as an independent media. Our analysis on Sonia and Congress party was in line with our independent stance.
“We never criticised Ms. Sonia Gandhi,” the channel claimed even as a host of Congress bigwigs, including Chief Minister K Rosaiah, former Chief Minister N Janardhana Reddy, several State ministers and PCC chief D Srinivas, strongly condemned the “blasphemous story”.
The special story was telecasted 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.
Belligerent Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy’s television channel on November 20, 2010 launched a frontal attack on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi as well as the party, days after he claimed to be “running out of patience.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also targeted along with the “coterie around Sonia” for the “sorry state of affairs in Congress.”
Though Jagan himself has not said anything directly against Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh or Congress, Sakshi television news channel owned by him ran an hour-long special programme targeting Sonia Gandhi’s leadership and “rapid degeneration” of the party under her.
Ever since Jagan was denied the Chief Minister’s post after his father Y S Rajashekara Reddy’s death, Sakshi newspaper and television channel have been running stories severely criticising Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah and his government’s policies.
Jagan’s rival groups in the party too have been subjected to attacks in his media but this is for the first time that Sakshi chose to take on the Congress high command directly.
Political observers here see Sakshi’s story as a prelude to Jagan’s ambitious future political plans.
“That he has chosen to target the party high command in general and Sonia Gandhi in particular through his television channel, is an obvious indication that Jagan is preparing ground for his exit from Congress,” one political observer said.
“Ms. Sonia is neither the President of India nor the Prime Minister but she is dictating the politics of the country,” screamed a headline even as several critical remarks were made against her in the voice-over in the Telugu news channel.
“He has been just a rubber stamp,” Sakshi remarked, taking potshots at Manmohan Singh in the light of the recent observations of Supreme Court in the 2G spectrum case.
The snide remarks against their leaders have left many a Congress leader in the State seething.
Known Sonia loyalist and Jagan-baiter, V Hanumantha Rao, was the first to spit fire against his young parliamentary colleague for trying to pour scorn on a “great leader” like Sonia.
“This is an unpardonable mistake that Jagan has committed. The time has come to expose him,” Hanumantha Rao, a Member of Rajya Sabha, said and appealed to Congress workers to boycott Sakshi newspaper and television channel run by the Kadapa MP.
The special story was telecasted to mark the 125th anniversary celebrations of the Congress party.
The report said the grand old party was on a “rapid degeneration” across the country and even Sonia Gandhi herself was facing rough weather in Rae Bareilly constituency.
“Ms. Sonia is not a good orator and cannot address a gathering fluently. Her mass following is on the decline,” it claimed.
“The various scandals that broke out under the United Progressive Alliance regime over the last six years have become a noose around the Congress’ neck. The party high command is facing a torrid time as the situation is going out of hand,” the Sakshi story said.
In fact, the story also had reference to the Bofors scandal. Sonia’s political secretary Ahmed Patel was singled out from among the “coterie” for the attack.
“In Patel’s native Gujarat, the Congress has been decimated completely,” the story said.
Hanumantha Rao said: “Jagan’s father Rajasekhara Reddy remained loyal to the Congress high command and never criticised it. We shall not tolerate if Mr. Jagan displays such temerity to lampoon Ms. Gandhi who sacrificed everything for the sake of the country.”
He said all the scandals that were alleged to have happened during Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s tenure would be dug out and exposed.
“As loyal party workers, we shall not keep quiet. We are ready to take on him head-on,” the Rajya Sabha Member asserted.
Meanwhile, senior leaders in the State party like Palvai Govardhan Reddy, P Shankar Rao and others are getting ready to petition the high command against Jagan with reference to the story telecast in Sakshi.