Massive shakeup in the offing in Prasar Bharati after budget presentation on 8 July

NEW DELHI: Whether India's new prime minister Manmohan Singh reshuffles his cabinet or not, but government sources say that a massive shakeup is in the offing in Prasar Bharati after the Union Budget is presented on 8 July.     

The aim of the proposed reshuffle in Prasar Bharati, which manages Indian pubcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio, is to detoxify the organisation of saffron influence, or purge those people allegedly close to the previous government and appointed during that time.

"At present, the government does not want to upset the functioning of DD especially as important events are coming up. But after the Budget, various aspects would be looked into," a source familiar with the functioning of Prasar Bharati said, indicating some of the deputy director-generals may also feel the heat of reshuffle.

The news of a shake-up in Prasar Bharati gains credence as information and broadcasting minister

Jaipal Reddy is scheduled to meet the vice-president of India in the evening and later a senior Member of Parliament, Communist Party of India's (Marxist) Nilotpal Basu, who has been in the forefront for purging Prasar Bharati of people allegedly loyal to the previous government.

Reddy's meeting with vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat is important as the latter heads a three-member selection panel that is responsible for choosing the chairman of the Prasar Bharati board.

The present chairman of Prasar Bharati, senior journalist MV Kamath, earlier this year got an extension for a six-year term. He has been under attack for being a Bharatiya Janata Party sympathiser and has been known to contribute articles to BJP's mouthpiece like Organiser.

The government sources indicated that 'operation clean-up' would start with DD News and is likely to involve other media units too within Prasar Bharati. In DD News, some contractual employees have decided to quit on their own, while some others are attempting to mend fences with the present political power centers.

Interestingly, the so-called saffron cleansing is being done at the behest of the Left parties, which are important allies in the present coalition government and have been demanding that some people be asked to go.

But media observers here felt that if each successive government would replace or purge people in a media organisation like Prasar Bharati, then the chances of it coming into its own and being financially independent would never happen.

Even as news of reshuffle in Prasar Bharati does the rounds of the Capital, information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy has made it clear that the government is not looking into pruning of the forces in the organisation. This would mean that the wage bill of Prasar Bharati, boasting over 40,000 employees, too would continue to be inflated.

While bemoaning the fact that running of Prasar Bharati is an expensive proposition - annual expenses are over Rs 8,000 million, while combined revenue is slightly over Rs 6,000 million - Reddy has indicated indirectly that public may be taxed more to meet the gap between outflow and inflow of money.

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