NEW DELHI: Didn't we tell you about it even while others were only talking about it? Aaj Tak's political editor Deepak Chaurasia has finally made up his mind to join India's pubcaster Doordarshan. Chaurasia, the man whom TV Today Network (the parent company of Aaj Tak and Headlines Today) would have ideally liked to retain, will in his new avatar, be the consulting editor to DD's proposed news channel, DD News.
However, the Election Commission is still to take a formal decision on a pre-elections relaunch, slated early November. Five states in India go to polls between November and December and EC may slap a ban on DD on the November relaunch, if it feels that it may amount to undue advantage to the government of the day vis-?-vis other political parties.
Talking to indiantelevision.com on the auspicious day of Diwali, Chaurasia said, "I would be resigning from Aaj Tak over the next few days to take up this new assignment (at the helm of DD News)." Pointing out that he does not foresee much problem with the relaunch of DD News --- that may get delayed by a month or so, if EC sees red --- Chaurasia added, "The agenda would be to make DD News as competitive (as other news channels). But these are still early days for me."
Chaurasia was taken round the Central Production Facility (CPC) of DD in Delhi, from where most news bulletins are put out, on Diwali day by DD officials. Though nobody is speaking on the issue, the remuneration package of Chaurasia is said to be in the region of Rs. 1.5 lakh (Rs 1,50,000) per month, a substantial northward trek from his Aak Tak pay packet.
It is also being said that Chaurasia's departure from Aaj Tak may have a cascading effect and four or five others too may leave with him. Aaj Tak, on its part, is playing it cool. Pointing out that Chaurasia was a competent professional, a senior executive of TV Today Network, however, admitted, "We are not in the (salary) `matching' game. At the end of the day, it's an individual's decision."
In the run-up to Chaurasia's wooing by DD, several other names had been thrown up in the government and TV industry circles as the head of DD News, which may still continue to be run by government officials on deputation in Prasar Bharati. The other names that had been doing the rounds included those of former BBC man in India Satish Jacob.
Meanwhile, DD officials pointed out that till the time the news channel is not put back on air, Chaurasia is likely to undertake anchoring assignments on DD's existing channels where the number of news bulletins are likely to be increased in the run-up to the elections.