New Delhi: Taking a leaf from the Congress party, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government has packed the board of an ‘autonomous’ Prasar Bharati with four part-time members who are either members or fellow-travellers of the ruling dispensation.
The new appointments announced on Friday are:
- Ashok Tandon, who was media advisor to Atal Bihari Vajayee when he was Prime Minister,
- Anup Jalota, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party more than a decade ago and regularly campaigns for the party
- Shashi Shekhar, who founded Niti Central, a website set up before the 2014 election to back the BJP and Narendra Modi
- Sunil Alagh, a businessman who is a regular on TV debates where he bats for the BJP and the government
The 13-member board governs the Prasar Bharati Corporation, which, in turns, controls Doordarshan and All India Radio. Of these, six members are part-time while five are bureaucrats who serve ex-officio. The current CEO, Jawhar Sircar, was appointed by the Manmohan Singh government, while the current Prasar Bharati chairman, Surya Prakash, is a nominee of the Narendra Modi government.
“There were four vacant positions of part-time members of Prasar Bharati Board. The Information and Broadcasting ministry had prepared a panel of around a dozen eminent names from which four persons have been chosen by the committee” headed by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, a source told PTI.
The two remaining part-time members are film maker Muzaffar Ali and IIM Ahmedabad head S.K. Barua, both of whom were appointed by the previous government.
While Ali and Barua are not seen as ‘political’ names, eyebrows were raised by the appointments Manish Tiwari made last year as I&B minister. He nominated C.R. Kesavan, who later went on to become a Congress spokesperson, and Dipa Dixit, daughter of the late J.N. Dixit, a former foreign secretary who was Manmohan Singh’s first National Security Adviser. In 2010, Suman Dubey, who is known to be close to the Congress and Congress president Sonia Gandhi was inducted as a board member.
In November 2013, Vice President Hamid Ansari blocked the nomination of former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal after he was charged with sexually assaulting a younger colleague.
Sources told The Wire that the current nominations were delayed after Ansari objected to junior I&B minister Rajyavendra Singh Rathore declaring who the members were going be even before the 3-member nomination committee had met to consider the ministry’s nominees.