Senior journalist Barkha Dutt in a series of tweets on Thursday alleged that a section of the ruling party is intimidating her.
“The story is about the government interfering with my right to work. Media owners have personally told me that because the BJP top guys do not like me they can’t risk having my show on the channel,” Ms. Dutt said.
She said she has been getting friendly warnings and advice from the BJP and the government asking her to lie low. In December 2017, she was allegedly approached by a promoter who wanted her to help him set up a team for a news channel he was planning.
“Over the last few months those associated with the ruling party have warned me politely, impolitely not to work on new TV projects and told me ‘we will never allow them to happen.’ Today I was told, a 45-minute meeting was held on how to stop me, smear me, malign me, tap me,” she tweeted.
Speaking to The Hindu she said the government is using instruments of law as tools of intimidation.
“I decided to go public today, because I was told they will go after my family,” she said.
Questions have been raised about the identity of the promoters of the upcoming news channel. Many have claimed that Congress MP Kapil Sibal is also one of the financiers of the channel.
“Whether or not an opposition MP is financially linked to the channel, how is that relevant? As long as a news channel follows all the rules and regulations why should it be denied a licence? There are two BJP MPs Subhash Chandra and Rajeev Chandrashekhar who own and run a news channel. In the past one and half years the only licence cleared by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was for Republic which is funded by Mr. Chandrashekhar,” Ms. Dutt said.
She said she plans to fight to assert her right to work. “As long as I do not break a law how can the BJP stop me from working,” she said. For now she does not have a technical basis to file an FIR, she added.
“Please know that intimidation works in multiple ways. How can I file an FIR saying they are arm-twisting media owners,” she said.
She had also tagged the Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore in her tweets. He has not reacted to the tweets. Mr. Rathore’s office did not respond to questions send by The Hindu.