Sunday, March 18, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Samata ministers adamant
Govt to start media war on Opposition
Satish Mishra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 17
In a move to counter the Opposition, the National Democratic Alliance partners have decided to go in for an aggressive information campaign to fight the battle in the popular mind.

Even as the Samata Ministers, Mr Nitish Kumar, Mr Digvijay Singh and Mr V. Sreenivasa Prasad, have refused to withdraw their resignations from the Council of Ministers as part of a well-thought out strategy for projecting the party and its leaders in good light in public perception, all key NDA figures including, the ministers and party functionaries, have been asked to make themselves available to mediapersons, particularly the electronic media.

Even those who were normally inaccessible to the media are now ready to meet journalists and often enough editors and key figures of news channels are being approached.

The strategy is not only aimed at countering the Opposition attack and allegations but also to use the tool of “disinformation” so that people at large become more confused.

While the BJP functionaries, including its General Secretary Narendra Modi, raised doubts over the connections of Tehelka CEO Tarun Tejpal’s connections with Congress leader Arjun Singh, former Defence Minister George Fernandes went to town saying that he suspected the role of the ISI in the sensational disclosure of the website.

“I am not sure if they (ISI) were not behind this exercise” to demoralise the morale of Indian defence forces, Mr Fernandes told a TV channel.

In a press statement, Mr Modi even made an attempt to establish the connection of Mr R.K. Gupta, a known and old member of the Rashtriya Swaamsewak Sangh who has prominently figured in Tehelka expose, with Mr Arjun Singh.

Mr Modi has asked: “Is not a fact that when Shri Arjun Singh was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, R.K.Gupta had entered into the industrial world of Bhopal under the name of “United Soya” due to his favour after relinquishing his building construction work?”

“Is not a fact that later on, he set his own firm in Bhopal under the name “United TV’ with the help of Shri Arjun Singh”, Mr Modi said in a statement.

Posing questions through media is an old weapon of the RSS, the BJP and the other organisations of the Sangh Parivar. It helps in diverting the popular mind from the issue, a BJP functionary said.

At the same time, all government agencies have been asked to collect information on the working of and the background of Mr Tejpal and other journalists who were involved in the Operation West End. The Department of Company Affairs has been asked to look into the records, book of accounts and the pattern of shareholding of the Tehelka website to find out the source of its funding for making payments to various persons, including former Presidents of the BJP and Samata Party.


Tehelka calls it witchhunt; Centre denies
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 17
Days after throwing the entire government into a tizzy, Internet news portal, today charged the government with initiating a “scandalous campaign” against the organisation and ordering a probe against the company even as the Centre denied having ordered any investigation.

“Even the straightforward journalistic story is being attributed to political and other interests. It is a disturbing factor and an attack on the Press,” the CEO of the company, Mr Tarun Tejpal, told a press conference here.

He also alleged that “the Department of Company Affairs, CBI, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax authorities have been asked to go against us.”

Mr Tejpal also claimed that Tehelka reporter Samuel Mathew was questioned by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) once in October and five times recently and that the telephones of the network have been tapped ever since the expose.

Minutes after the press conference, the government issued a statement saying that no investigation of any kind had been directed against and its holding company.

“The attention of the government has been drawn to the news item appearing in some newspapers and the website of that the Union Government has instituted an inquiry against and its holding company, Buffalo Network Private Limited,” the statement said.Back


Govt writes to CJI

New Delhi, March 17
The Centre today wrote to the Chief Justice of India Mr A.S Anand, formally requesting him to nominate a sitting Supreme Court judge to head the one-man commission to inquire into Tehelka expose.

“A letter requesting the Chief Justice of India to nominate a sitting Supreme Court judge was sent today,” top Law Ministry sources said. PTI

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