A senior anchor with the Rajya Sabha TV (RSTV), which telecasts proceedings from the Upper House of Parliament, has been benched for ‘out of context reference’ about former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during a live debate on the channel.
The anchor, Neelu Vyas, reportedly received flak from senior editors and managers of RSTV, for her “unsubstantiated allegation” related to Vajpayee’s past, who at that point of time, was lying on his death bed at AIIMS, The Wire reports.
The show angered Vice President Venkaiah Naidu so much that the channel had to run a public apology for the incident in its ticker.
What Was the Question?
In an interview with a studio guest, Vijay Trivedi, who is the author of the 2016 biography of Vajpayee, Haar Nahi Maanoonga, Vyas had asked him about Vajpayee’s undertaking during the Quit India Movement in 1942.
According to a 2017 article published in Outlook magazine, Vajpayee and his elder brother were arrested for 23 days during the Quit India Movement. They were released only after agreeing that they won’t participate in any anti-British movement.
During the discussion on RSTV, Trivedi had responded by saying that the incident had indeed taken place and that Vajpayee was 17 at the time and had been made to sign the pledge ‘under the influence of an important person’.
However, Trivedi added that Vajpayee had neither confirmed nor denied and had emphasised that the incident should not question his nationalist character.
Why is the Vice President’s Office Upset?
Following the incident, Vyas was reprimanded and taken off air for two weeks, while the channel itself offered a public apology saying: “...a senior RSTV anchor made some out of the context and factually inaccurate references to Shri Vajpayee,” the report adds.
The uproar reportedly started when A A Rao, a Rajya Sabha secretariat and bureaucrat close to Naidu told the channel that the Vice President had demanded the latter to issue a public apology.
Rao later told The Wire that the reason Vyas’ question created outrage, was because it was “inappropriate” to have asked it while Vajpayee was on his death bed.
Has the Anchor Filed a Complaint?
The Wire report also claims that on 8 August, Vyas had filed a complaint against Rao for harassment, interference and making a “sexually coloured” comment.
She had reportedly even written to Vice President Naidu saying that if appropriate action in not taken, then she would be forced to approach the National Commission for Women and courts for justice.
On the controversy over former PM Vajpayee, Vyas defended herself by saying that the purpose behind asking that question was to show the people ‘how Vajpayee overcame all the hurdles, including, the forced upon, undertaking taken from him by the Britishers.’
(With inputs from The Wire)
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