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Shekhawat, Somnath in conflict
Sansadiya Television Network
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 15
A situation of conflict is arising between the Presiding Officers of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha over the Sansadiya Television Network (STN) — two separate Doordarshan channels for the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha whose trial run started four days ago.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat is believed to be upset over the way Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee went ahead with trial run of STN from May 11 to May 23 without taking him (Mr Shekhawat) into confidence.

Mr Shekhawat has convened a meeting of General Purpose Committee of the Rajya Sabha tomorrow — the GPC has an all-party composition — to find out whether they agree with the way the STN has been started.

The GPC meeting would also decide whether it is in favour of a separate Doordarshan channel exclusively for the Rajya Sabha, though the trial run for STN (RS) has already begun.

Mr Shekhawat is also believed to be peeved over a point of order here that the Speaker did not take him into confidence though the channel is called Sansadiya Television Network, not Lok Sabha Television Network.

Another area of conflict between the Presiding Officers of the two Houses is that Mr Chatterjee has planned to make the STN financially afloat by ensuring it massive advertisement support from Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). Mr Shekhawat is opposed to the milking of already over-burdened PSUs by government machinery and took up the issue of parliamentarians accepting lavish gifts from PSUs during their various trips. The practice was subsequently banned.

Yet another problem is that the STN’s trial runs have started even before deciding on the contents and objectives. Opposition parties’ members have already launched a whispering campaign against STN for being a propaganda vehicle for the Left parties. The Opposition members also allege that the STN is being run by the “triad” of Messrs Somnath Chatterjee, Priyaranjan Das Munshi and Bhaskar Ghosh.

Mr Chatterjee is believed to have planned for making STN an autonomous body, independent from Prasar Bharati. Once this autonomous body is set up, Mr Bhaskar Ghosh is likely to be appointed its CEO.

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