Naidu: “Hindustan Samachar ‘bahut purana’ aur ‘Hindustani’ hai”
I&B minister Venkaiah Naidu deftly evades a question on RSS links of a news agency by drawing attention to the 977 newspapers published from Delhi and 2,354 in UP, many of them existing on paper
Any newspaper desirous of central government’s advertisements must subscribe to one or all of the three news agencies, Press Trust of India (PTI), United News of India (UNI) and Hindustan Samachar (HS). This is one of the six pre-requisites laid down by the Directorate of Audio Vidual Publicity (DAVP) of the Government of India.
In the Rajya Sabha last week, Janata Dal (United) MP Harivansh asked Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Venkaiah Naidu to spell out the ‘professional record and background’ of Hindustan Samachar and whether this agency continues to be affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The minister replied, “Hindustan Samachar bahut purana hai aur yeh Hindustani hai” (HS is an old news agency and an Indian news agency at that).
The JD(U) Member persisted and said his specific question was whether the agency was linked to the RSS. Naidu first tried to evade the question by saying that the Government did not look at political affiliations while releasing advertisements.
When the reply failed to satisfy Harivansh, who was joined by several other MPs in repeating the question and pressing the minister for a specific reply, an exasperated Naidu said that members should not compare and make loose comments. “How can I compare a nationalist organisation with a political party,” he exclaimed.
In the Rajya Sabha last week, Janata Dal (United) MP Harivansh asked Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Venkaiah Naidu to spell out the ‘professional record and background’ of Hindustan Samachar and whether this agency continues to be affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
The news agency in question was indeed started in 1948 by the RSS, but has languished for the past several decades. BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP RK Sinha and veteran journalist and someone close to the RSS, Ram Bahadur Rai, were roped in last year to help revive the agency.
The conditions put by the Government are deemed unreasonable by a section of the industry, which believes that the Government has no business to put such conditions.
Naidu informed the Rajya Sabha that he had met a delegation of newspaper owners and held ‘meaningful discussion’ with them. While acknowledging that several newspapers in the country were facing a crisis, he said that it was also true that many of the newspapers existed only on paper.
The minister informed that as many as 977 newspapers were being published from Delhi alone and 2,354 in Uttar Pradesh. The corresponding figures for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were 616 and 675 respectively he added.
“Indeed there seems to be a solitary printing press in Lucknow which printed 60 newspapers,” he informed the House, suggesting that not all of them deserved to receive advertisement support from the Government.
- Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
- Rajya Sabha
- Janata Dal (United)
- Venkaiah Naidu
- I&B minister
- Hindustan Samachar
- Press Trust of India
- United News of India
- Directorate of Audio Vidual Publicity
- RK Sinha
- Ram Bahadur Rai
- Government advertisements