BJP believes that Rajya Sabha TV would finally shed its anti-BJP agenda with Venkaiah Naidu taking charge as vice-president and chairman of the channel.
With the BJP vice-presidential candidate M. Venkaiah Naidu all set to take over the reins of the upper house of the Parliament next week, the party is hopeful that Rajya Sabha TV would finally rid itself of what it believes to be the channel’s anti-BJP character.
Senior party leaders, including Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, launched a scathing attack on the channel for conducting an allegedly biased debate on India’s foreign policy on Thursday.
Trinamool Congress MP Manish Gupta’s speech was given three to four minutes on the show, whereas his speech was completely blacked out, Sahasrabuddhe said. “They do this deliberately. I was the only BJP leader who spoke on the issue besides the (external affairs) minister (Sushma Swaraj).”
“Partisan RSTV: very surprisingly or perhaps understandably; the 9 PM news bulletin blacked out BJP members’ speeches on foreign policy debate,” the BJP national vice-president had earlier tweeted.
However, with the BJP now becoming the single largest party in Rajya Sabha with 58 seats followed by Congress with 57, the party believes that the channel would become bipartisan. “He will certainly not handle things in a partisan manner, that one can be assured of. He has already said that he is not a party man now that he is a candidate contesting for vice-presidential polls. We are rather confident that he would take everyone along,” said Sahasrabudhhe.
With the tenure of Vice-President Hamid Ansari drawing to a close, Rajya Sabha has already been undergoing a transition in its character since the last few months. Often accused by the BJP of having a bias against the Right-wing ideology, some shows on India’s foreign policy, national security, business and media hosted by journalists seen to be unfavourable to the ruling party have already been discontinued.
The allegations made by Sahasrabudhhe were dismissed as baseless by a senior official at RSTV. “Why would anybody do this (blacking out members’ speeches in the news bulletin)? There are standard instructions to make sure every member is shown on TV. And the news bulletin cannot show all speeches. Yet, we will look into the matter,” the official said.
Rajya Sabha TV is owned and regulated by the upper house, and the Vice-President of India functions as its chairman. The channel typically covers the live proceedings of the upper house, broadcasts programmes on national and international affairs, and shows documentaries.