Essel Group Chairman and Rajya Sabha MP Dr Subhash Chandra has spoken on the latest controversy involving Zee News. On Monday, a news portal reported that a town hall meeting took place on July 27 at Zee’s office in Sector 16, Noida.
During the meeting, Chandra’s close associate Amit Jain allegedly stated, “Let me tell each and every one of you that the chairman has a strong message for a few people of this organisation. If somebody thinks that Sudhir Chaudhary can’t be terminated because of his celebrity status, then he is wrong.” The news report added that Jain looked towards editor Chaudhary and proclaimed that nobody happened to be a celebrity at the organisation.
Following Jain’s harsh statement, Chaudhary apparently offered to resign along with other high ranking officials in his team. However, he was snubbed by Jain. According to the report, the exercise to cut Chaudhary to size took place because Chandra had grown wary of his “growing clout” within the BJP.
The chairman was also reportedly concerned about the diminishing credibility of Zee News. Another point that was highlighted was in relation to WION, Zee’s upcoming English-language international channel.
“Apparently, Chandra’s new venture, an English news channel named WION is struggling to staff its newsroom and the prevailing belief is that journalists are saying no to the offers – generous as they may be – because of Zee News’s reputation,” claimed the report.
However, newly-appointed Rajya Sabha member Chandra has rubbished the allegations. On Twitter, he mentioned that there is a campaign of “misinformation” against Zee News. He asserted that Zee had broken away from sections in the media who project themselves as secular by not speaking the truth.
In recent months, Zee News has been heavily criticized for what has been termed as “jingoistic” journalism. During the Jawaharlal Nehru University row, several blamed the channel for doctoring videos and manufacturing consent against JNU student leaders. At that time too, Chandra had launched a spirited defence of his organisation.
In his over ten-minute-long monologue, Chandra made attempts at establishing Zee News as pro India as opposed to being pro-BJP. Citing his 45-years of professional experience, he pleaded that he had made more friends in the Congress than the BJP. He stated that even Congress leaders had privately admitted to him that only Narendra Modi was capable of tackling poverty and hunger in the country. But they couldn’t say so openly due to political compulsions.
Dr Chandra had suggested that members of a particularly community were at the forefront of abusing him and Chaudhary on Twitter due to Zee’s nationalistic coverage of events. But he had nothing against them. In fact he claimed to have built bridges between India and Pakistan through his channel Zindagi which was opposed by orthodox members of another community. He concluded his message by advising BJP members to also realize that Zee wasn’t the saffron outfit’s channel and that they would remain opposed to both orthodox Muslims and Hindus.