Television

DD News stirs a storm by telecasting live RSS annual day event

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NEW DELHI: Doordarshan has come under fire from various political parties and social media activists for telecasing live-for the first time – the speech by Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to the organisation's cadres.





The RSS is the ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party; it describes itself as a cultural outfit devoted to the betterment of the nation and upholding Hindu values.

Almost all the opposition parties, which describe the RSS as anti-secular, said the telecast of the speech amounts to misuse of state television by the government.





However, DD News Director Archana Dutta justified the telecast, saying: "It is a news event for us and that is why we covered it like any other newsworthy event." However, this event has never been covered live, and in previous years including the years when Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee was Prime Minister, it was reported on by a stringer and not by a DD correspondent.”



 "DD is run by public money. So how is government using it to broadcast the RSS chief's speech?" said Rashid Alvi of the Congress. "The RSS uses the occasion to propagate its Hindutva ideology," said the CPI (M) declaring Doordarshan "has no business" in broadcasting the speech.



The BJP's Shaina NC defended the broadcast, stating, "I am glad that this speech has been highlighted and people realise that if there is one cadre in the country today that has genuinely contributed to patriotism and nation-building, it is the RSS."



The annual Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra speech by the RSS chief has never been telecast before by Doordarshan. The address articulates the organisation's vision and agenda for its 4.5 million volunteers, who played an invaluable role in the electoral victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May, who was an RSS volunteer for many years before joining the BJP.



Congress leader Salman Khurshid said that the decision was unacceptable, adding that the Congress refused to accept the RSS as 'above board' in the national discourse of India. "What they (the RSS) want and what they believe in is not in tune with the values of this country," he said in comments to the media.

The CPI-M also said it was an instance of the "public broadcaster being misused by the Modi government."

Prominent historian Ramachandra Guha called the decision a "dangerous misuse of the state machinery", a tweet that has earned him an editorial in Niti Central, titled Ramachandra Guha’s hypocrisy on Doordarshan.

The decision has also sparked a massive debate on Twitter with those for and against it clashing on the social network. Questions are being asked whether DD will also air speeches by the Chief of the Golden Temple, VC of Darul Uloom or the Archbishop of Sacred Heart Cathedral. 

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