Barring a few, almost all Media Houses have already compromised with Didi. Authorities of different media say: They bow down for the survival
Asim Kumar Mitra
Wenever Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, starts abusing any person, she never looks back to ascertain whether she herself is accused of committing same type of crime. In this matter she is ruthless and as such she does not care. When she assumed the post of Chief Minister, her first
agenda was to control the free press as they were very much fond of criticising almost all acts of Mamata. Soon after she became CM, she took no time to gag their voices. In this regard her first step was to scrap all those committees which were instrumental for the
democratic and smooth running of the affairs of the Press. She kept the façade of those committees intact, but she changed the members in such a fashion as not a single person from any Opposition party could find a berth there. In this process, she had scrapped state-level Press Accreditation/ Committee, Committee meant for
coordinating government advertisement to both print and electronic media, Committee to look after the working of Press Information Centre (Gana Madhyam Kendra) and so on. All these committees are filled in by Mamata Didi’s handpicked persons from her own party. Apart from Chief Minister she is holding number of portfolios including Home, Information and Culture portfolios etc.
Immediately after assuming power Didi declared that the senior and retired journalists of the State would receive a monthly pension of Rs 2,500 instead of Rs 2,000 declared by the erstwhile Left Front Government. It is interesting to note that neither the Left Front Government nor the present TMC Government did give even a
single penny as pension to the senior and retired journalists of the State.
Recently when the Central Government declared that they would ban the telecasting of NDTV for one day as a measure of punishment as they had committed a serious crime by divulging official secrets through their channels when there was a war-like situation with Pakistan, Mamata lost no time to heavily come down on the Modi Government saying “Modi’s activities are like Tughlaq.” She further stepped the ante against the BJP-led centre, slamming it for unleashing a political vendetta that was “worse than Emergency”.
But when she said that “Centre wants to control media”, had she ever cared to see her own role in this regard? No. But she accused that the Centre wants to control media. After three years of her assuming power Mamata has proved her mettle and created an atmosphere of awe throughout the State. Now it seems that the Opposition is so much subdued that they are not in a position to raise their heads in front of Didi. Of course, there is one exception and that is BJP—Now a days in almost all the party
meetings of TMC the discussions are invariably veering round BJP and surprisingly enough, they discuss the onslaught that would be coming from state BJP. So she has become extra ordinarily cautious about the politics of BJP. She does not give any importance on Congress and Left parties. Her only concern is BJP. Only for this reason she thinks the Press of all views and ideals should be under her thumbs.
In this regard, mention should be made about the richest and most influential media house Ananda Bazar Patrika, that had given a very good fight against the political force of Didi. Ultimately, they had to bow down. It is a very long story. Only one branch of that house is still keeping its independence of catering news and its name is “ABP Ananda” channel. All other publications of that house have compromised on political line. Even the editor of Ananda Bazar Group Avik Sarkar had to be removed from his post. It was the question of survival of the house after all! and “Hence this compromise”.
The Statesman—another traditionally famous newspaper of its times had to agree with the compromise formula put forward before them for acceptance and it was accepted. Manas Ghosh, editor, Dainik Statesman, Bengali version of The Statesman resigned from the post, but did not compromise. Didi suggested the name of her party’s Muslim Rajya Sabha member as the editor of the Bengali Statesman and the Statesman authority had to accept him as editor.
Barring a few, almost all Houses have already compromised with Didi. Otherwise large section of newspaper and media would starve. Authorities of different media say that it is for the survival of those journalists and employees that we had to bow down.
(The writer is Senior Journalist)