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How Modi's interview for Doordarshan was "censored" in 2014, resulting in political flutter

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
It is well-known how, after Ashok Srivastava interviewed Narendra Modi for the Doordarshan (DD) News ahead of the 2014 elections, a big chunk of it was edited. The edited portion included, among other things, Modi referring to Priyanka Gandhi his daughter and sharp attacks on Sonia Gandhi's political adviser Ahmed Patel and her son-in-law Robert Vadra.
The BJP raised a huge hue and cry over the deletion of a 19-minute part of Modi’s interview that was broadcast on DD. The then DD authorities targeted Srivastava with a flurry of questions and rebukes, telling him, whatever was to be aired or not was not his prerogative.
Verbal duel followed between Congress' Manish Tiwari and Prasar Bharti CEO Jawahar Sarkar about the editing and censorship of the interview. Srivastava was taken to task by SM Khan, DG DD News, who almost threatened him to be ejected out of his job. He was also taken to task for not rebuking Modi, who had pointed out how for almost ten years he was blacked out.
Charges were levied against him for his links with the Sangh Parivar because his father Vijay Dutt Srivastava was Lal Krishna Advani’s additional personal secretary in the past and had close relations with the Sangh leaders. The Congress establishment seemed to treat the Sangh as if it were a synonym of treason.
Another charge against Srivastava was that he was “planted” by Sushma Swaraj when she was minister of information and broadcasting under AB Vajpayee. He was also considered a sinner for marrying someone who worked in the Sangh mouthpiece, “Panchjanya”.
Srivastava has respond to all this through his new book, “Narendra Modi Censored”. The entire narrative relates to his predicament, starting with how he got the flight for Ahmedabad just by a whisker for his interview with Modi, fixed in Gandhinagar.
He laments, after having recorded Modi for 56 minutes, how the Congress-led government, through DD authorities, including Khan and Sircar, tried to stop it from being aired. On April 26, 2014, he took the interview of Modi, the then BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, to be telecast the same day. However, it wasn’t cleared for obvious reasons.
Khan, Srivastava records in his book, objected to avoiding asking Modi question on Gujarat riots. As for Modi calling Priyanka his daughter, which was also edited out, but later became news, she responded -- which many considered in bad taste -- by saying, "I am Rajiv Gandhi’s daughter"! DD News did carry the interview after many cuts, remaining only to 34 minutes.
Those were testing days, full of turbulence, for Srivastava, who waited for the release of the interview, the book asserts. Ultimately, it was aired but like a "soulless" entity. He did protest but nothing came out. Nevertheless, he says, he shared his disgust of his Modi interview being held back and edited.
Srivastava took the risk by arguing with the top brass in the office for the "unjust" treatment. In the “Mywatcher” WhatsApp group, he wrote the "horrendous" manner in which the entire Modi interview was "truncated". Lot of brouhaha was there; nevertheless, the entire controversy was displayed on the social media where thousands liked it.
Firoz Bakht Ahmed with Modi
Currently, Srivastava enjoys a celebrity status. In fact, many in the electronics media consider him a credible and creditable name. He is also one of those who, for being close to Modi, is termed as “Modi bhakht” (Modi’s faithful).
Srivastava laments in his book how fake news and false perception and propaganda about the present times have become a norm. He wonders if this is freedom of press. He also questions those who who talk about “state of undeclared emergency” and “throttling of the freedom of press”, as also those who say Modi fears facing questions.
Srivastava had earlier reported events like the razing of the Babri mosque and the occupation of the Hazratbal shrine in by terrorists. A recipient of the National RTI Award, in 2003, 2005 and 2006 he was awarded for being the most impacting and sought after anchor.
Today, at DD News, his “Do Took” (Calling a Spade a Spade), often intrusive for the political participants, is known to enjoy one of the best TRPs . 
---
*Grandnephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

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