NEW DELHI: Doordarshan has transferred one of its assistant directors from Ahmedabad to Andamans after the national broadcaster’s Gujarati channel aired a news item on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s estranged wife Jashodaben.
V M Vanol, 58, who has just over a year to retire, was transferred in January second week while the less-than-two minute item was aired by DD Girnar on January 1. The item talked about Jashodaben filing an RTI petition with Gujarat Police seeking details of her entitlements as PM’s wife, and was widely reported by the national media.
A questionnaire sent to I&B ministry by media seeking clarity on Vanol’s transfer went unanswered. Top ministry officials said the transfer was an editorial and administrative decision and was not because of any particular incident. They requested not to be named for this story.
Vanol confirmed he had been transferred to the Port Blair station in Andamans but refused to go into details of what led to his transfer. Doordarshan officials in Ahmedabad and New Delhi said the day after the clip was aired, top bureaucrats from the I&B ministry in New Delhi spoke to DD Ahmedabad Kendra officials and demanded an explanation. Four people – a joint director and three assistant directors including Vanol – who were in charge of putting news together that day were allegedly putting news together that day were allegedly pulled up.
But I&B ministry officials said the meeting was a regular stock taking event and was not related to any particular issue.
“Vanol was in charge of collecting news from Gujarat that day. Since Jashodaben’s news was big in all private channels, he decided to put out a small item,” an employee of DD Ahmedabad Kendra told media.
Incidentally, the public broadcaster had also run a small item on Jashodaben filing the RTI in December but that had gone unnoticed, said sources. Officials of DD Ahmedabad said that during the UPA regime, DD Girnar had blacked out Gujarat government ads that showed the then chief minister Modi publicising his development schemes.
“On May 16, 2014, even before the results were clear, everything changed. We were told to change our attitude. Whichever government takes over, DD has no autonomy,” an official at Doordarshan said.