Broadcasting agency Prasar Bharti, which runs Doordarshan and the All India Radio, has said that it had intimated Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar about the “controversial and objectionable content” in his Independence Day speech before deciding against airing it, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.
This comes a day after Doordarshan dismissed allegations that it had intentionally blacked out Sarkar’s speech.
In Sarkar’s speech, he had claimed that the “spirit of secularism” was under threat in India. “Conspiracies and attempts are underway to create an undesirable complexity and divisions in our society...by inciting passions to convert India into a particular religious country and in the name of protecting the cow,” he had said in the speech.
Sarkar’s address was recorded on August 14, but Doordarshan’s Protocol Officer UK Sahoo considered it controversial. The chief minister had asked him to maintain “the quality and the content” of his speech, Sahoo told The Indian Express.
After much deliberations with senior Prasar Bharti officials, including Chief Executive Officer Shashi Shekhar Vempati, it is believed to have been decided that the speech did not adhere to the Broadcast Code, and Sarkar was asked to modify it. However, since the Chief Minister’s Office did not respond to the communication, the speech was not aired on Independence Day.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) government in Tripura had alleged on Tuesday that Doordarshan and the All India Radio had refused to broadcast the chief minister’s Independence Day speech unless he reworked it. “This is a precursor to an authoritarian onslaught,” CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said on Wednesday, according to The Hindu. “If other non-BJP States do not join to resist this attack then Centre-State relationship as enshrined in our Constitution is under threat, our federalism is in danger.”