Amethi, May 1
In a scathing retort to Narendra Modi’s reported “daughter” comment, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Thursday said she was the daughter of late former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, while controversy-hit Doordarshan clarified there was no “deliberate editing” of the BJP prime ministerial candidate’s interview.
“My father is Rajiv Gandhi. He laid down his life for the country. He cannot be compared to any other person,” Priyanka Gandhi, the daughter of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, said angrily in Amethi.
She was reacting to a reported comment of Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Modi in an interview aired on Doordarshan April 27 that Priyanka Gandhi was like a daughter.
Following a media report that said Modi’s comment made during the interview to Doordarshan was edited out, the BJP charged the ruling Congress with interference in the functioning of the public broadcaster.
But Doordarshan clarified there was “no deliberate editing or omission” of any part of Modi’s interview.
“Wherever editing was done was for technical reasons and during post-production,” Doordarshan said in a statement.
Priyanka Gandhi, who has been unsparing in her attacks on Modi during political campaigns in favour of Sonia Gandhi and her brother Rahul Gandhi, also said that she did not appreciate the comparison with her father, who was assassinated by a Tamil Tiger human bomb in 1991 during an election rally.
Asked by reporters if she was offended by Modi’s comments, Priyanka said: “No, it doesn’t really anger me… But enough is enough. I don’t get offended by anything anyone says.”
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari denied any interference in the state-run broadcaster, saying Prasar Bharati, under which Doordarshan and All India Radio function, is kept at “arms length” by the government.
“Prasar Bharati is an autonomous broadcaster and is governed by an act of parliament. The ministry of information and broadcasting has an arms-length relationship with the broadcaster. We do not interfere in their news agenda,” Tewari told Times Now news channel.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram wondered if Priyanka Gandhi would appreciate Modi’s reported paternal sentiments.
“I am happy that Modi considers Priyanka Gandhi as his daughter, but am not sure if she will be happy to consider Modi as a father figure,” he said.
Latching onto the controversy to attack the Congress, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said the interview should have been played out in full and “there should not have been any tinkering”.
Another party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said: “Doordarshan already has been pressurised to function like a government mouthpiece.”
Prasad said if Doordarshan had taken the interview and altered it under pressure, the country was entitled to know the answer.
“If Narendra Modi chose to give the interview to Doordarshan, I think the entire interview should have been played,” Prasad told Times Now.
In its statement, Doordarshan said it had recorded the interview with Modi at Gandhinagar April 26 in a ‘walk the talk’ format.
“This was a three-camera production as Modi gave this interview while walking on his lawns and required a lot of post-production (editing) before putting it on air. The team came back from Gandhinagar in the late night of April 26 and after that, post-production was done to telecast it in a fixed slot,” it said.
DD News said the interview was telecast at 9.30 p.m. April 27, with a repeat telecast at 3 p.m. April 28.
“There was no interference or control from any authority in the entire process. Important portions of the interview were used in all the important bulletins of DD News also. There was no attempt to downplay the interview, rather it was given wide pre-telecast publicity and also repeated the next day, April 28. The clips were also used in news bulletins,” it said.