A day after the departure of ABP News Network Managing Editor Milind Khandekar, it has emerged that fellow journalist Punya Prasun Bajpai also quit the news organisation.
Bajpai confirmed his resignation but said he would not elaborate on the details.Bajpai hosted a primetime show called Masterstroke.
Last month, ABP news channel evoked strong comments from the government for a story on Masterstroke in the wake of a video interaction Prime Minister Narendra Modi held on June 20 with beneficiaries of various government programmes.
A participant from Chhattisgarh, Chandramani Kaushik, told Modi on the show said that her income had doubled after she switched from cultivating paddy to growing custard apples. But Masterstroke said that the woman had been tutored to make false claims.
The programme gained wider attention after Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted a clip of it.
The programme was criticised by number of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Rajyavardhan Rathore, the minister of state for information and broadcasting. He alleged that journalists had been driven by an agenda to oppose Narendra Modi.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also tweeted her criticism of the story.
Following this ABP News sent a reporter back to the woman’s village to re-investigate. “This is ABP News’ response to the questions you have raised,” they tweeted on Monday night, addressing the ministers who had dubbed their report “fake news”.
Following this episode, BJP officials began to boycott the channel, people familiar with the network said.
In addition, Twitter users had complained that they had been unable to get access to ABP news at the time when Masterstroke, Bajpai’s show, was being aired. People familiar with the network said disturbances in the channel’s signal began around July 13.
“Things began to change after the first week of July,” said a senior journalist in the channel who did not want to be identified. “We persisted with whatever we were doing. For us, news is news. But we are living through polarised times, where whatever you do is seen as pro-Modi, anti-Modi.”
On July 23, Bajpai said that the channel would keep telling the truth despite the alleged blocks – “You will black out the screen during Masterstroke, but we will treat that as the ‘black board’ and write the truth on it.”
On July 26, Bajpai tweeted that instead of paying any attention to starvation deaths, unemployment, farmer suicides, clean air and water, the focus seemed only to be on disrupting the signals of his programme, Masterstroke.
Thereafter, Bajpai took to tweeting out the videos of his programme. On July 30, a journalist from The Print tagged Tata Sky in his tweet about the blackout, asking for an explanation.
The problem did not end with tata sky but also continued with airtel and when asked Airtel confirmed the same line what tata sky did.
Following such events In Parliament, Trinamool Congress MP Derek OBrien spoke of pressure on journalists.
It is important to note few day back Journalists and media barons from Tamilnadu has met PM Modi under secret mission that been arranged by defence minister and till date the participants of that event not commented on this.
But the silence of journalists in tamilnadu is been ridiculed by bloggers in social media in tamilnadu.