Doordarshan has always been accused of being misused by the incumbent government and the party in power. But the public broadcaster seemed to cross an irrevocable line on Friday when it conducted a live telecast of the annual Vijayadashmi address of Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the twice-banned Rashtriya Swayamasevek Sangh.

The RSS is at the centre of the network of the Hindutva organisations of which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is a key member. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent much of his career as a full-time RSS worker. The controversial organisation has not bothered to tone down its chauvinism since he assumed office. Only last month, Bhagwat had stated: “Hindustan is a Hindu nation. Hindutva is the identity of our nation.”

Doordarshan's decision to broadcast the speech is in keeping with the new pressures that have been brought to bear on the organisation by the Narendra Modi government, insiders say.

“Everyday at sharp 9.30 in the morning, Information and Broadcasting Minister holds meeting with the Director General (News) of Doordarshan,” said a senior DD official. “This was never so under the previous regimes. I did not witness this even in the days of [Atal Bihari] Vajpayee’s government.”

This is a control reminiscent of the Emergency era, information officials said.

The decision to telecast the RSS speech, an official said, pushes the limits of the Doordarshan broadcast code. Though Bhagwat did not attack other religions, he continued to advance his claim that all residents of India are Hindu.

The characteristic of Hindutva, he said, "is that despite the natural plurality of languages, geography, faiths and sects, castes and sub-castes, food habits, traditions etc., it assimilates and accepts all of them with full respect and takes them along in the direction of welfare of the entire world. It offers complete freedom in matters of one's search for truth in life, experience and its inference."

Bhagwat added, "Full freedom of unrestricted debates on opinions about faith and beliefs intellectually, at the same time respect and acceptance of each other's faith, harmony and cooperation is the hall mark speciality of Hindu culture."

The Vijayadashmi event at Nagpur has been an annual practice ever since the RSS was formed in 1925. Every year on this day, the RSS chief lays down – for the workers and activists of the organisation – the Sangh’s vision and analyses the situation in the country.

Doordarshan’s Director General (News) Archana Datta attempted to rationalise the live telecast of Bhagwat’s speech, telling Times Now that the station had treated the address like “any other news event”. But in fact, the speech was broadcast in its entirety.

Many of her colleagues failed to agree with Datta’s argument. “Once you have identified your interests as being synonymous with the interests of your masters, the question of taking a stand for the institution never arises,” one official said. “Any act you commit then would always have a justification.”