Has Chavhanke done enough to deserve a seat in Rajya Sabha?

RSS poster boy Suresh Chavanke was released on bail on Friday but attributes his arrest in UP to the disconnect between the BJP government and administration

Photo courtesy: sudarshannews.com
Photo courtesy: sudarshannews.com


Although in police custody since his arrest from Lucknow airport on Wednesday, till he got bail on Friday, Suresh Chavhanke (45), the self-styled ‘nationalist’ anchor, editor and managing director of Sudarshan TV operating from Noida continued to tweet, post comments on his website and even supervised the shooting of footage of programmes from the police van.

Booked for promoting disharmony, hatred and ill-will among communities, the following are a sample of some of the less provocative statements he made during the past few weeks:

  • Abused a Muslim caller as ‘Gadha’ (ass) and ‘Babur ka Aulad’ (descendant of Babur)
  • Sambhal in UP now hosts ‘Shaitan’ (Devil) but soon will see the reincarnation of Kalki Bhagwan
  • They are threatening to turn Sambhal into Kashmir
  • One of the temples destroyed by Mughals was one in Sambhal, where Lord Krishna is about to be born again
  • We have such proof of the birth of Ram that even the Supreme Court, which is sitting over the case, will be shaken

The Indian Express reported on Friday that an unfazed Chavhanke remained defiant and justified his contentious programmes on the channel. Referring to the controversy caused by an Imam Itrat Hussain Babar in Sambhal (Uttar Pradesh), who has also been arrested for threatening that Chavhanke would be beheaded if he visited Sambhal, he told The Indian Express, “Nine ministers had said on camera that I should visit Sambhal,” he said, adding that “as usual, the administration bowed before Muslims. This administration is still not of the BJP”.

“About his show, he said: “Who will decide the content of a TV channel—whether it is communal or not? The broadcast authority of India or an SHO? I was arrested at the instance of an SHO. If news is analysed by an SHO, what will happen to freedom of media?”

The channel’s Editorial Consultant Rakesh Tripathi said: “We stand by our content.” Tripathi noted that Chavhanke resolved to visit Sambhal only after Babar’s “warning”. Babar was also arrested on Wednesday.” The full report can be read here.

On his website he boasted on Thursday, “Though I am under arrest my resolve is being fulfilled going to Sambhal on (April) 13 today as per the schedule.”

A former employee of the channel who worked as Personal Secretary (PS) to him for several years accused him of rape under the pretext of marriage. But he was given a clean chit by the police because of inadequate evidence.

Hailing from Shirdi (Maharashtra) he claims to have named the channel after the former RSS chief K Sudarshan. He is also accused by insiders of not paying back the loan he took from Central Bank of India, which was facilitated in the first place by the wife of a BJP MLA, who was then a General Manager in a Central Bank of India branch in Noida. National Herald contacted the lady who is now posted in Chandigarh but she refused to confirm or deny the information on the ground of ‘confidentiality’. The channel is also said to have received funds from the son of Asaram Bapu.

Finding it increasingly difficult to meet expenses and pay his employees, he is also accused of liberally selling air time to franchisees who were authorised then to collect money and advertisements for the channel. In return the channel was to share revenue with them.

National Herald got in touch with two such persons, Arzu Baksh from Jamshedpur and Shoab Ansari from Mumbai, both of whom alleged that while they had receipts to prove that they had paid (copy of one of the receipts in possession of National Herald), they had received nothing in return.

Arzu Baksh told National Herald, “I gave him ₹14 lakhs for Jharkhand franchise. He promised to give my share of advertisement money but never did. His henchmen went after me. And though I spent a lot of money constructing and renovating an office in Ranchi, I failed to recover a paisa.”

In photographs uploaded on the website of the channel, Chavhanke is seen with controversial Godman Chandraswamy and Union cabinet minister Nitin Gadkari. “Most often he calls up Chandraswamy to take his advice on important issues. Chandraswamy helped him financially also. He tried to influence Gadkari also but could not get much out of him,” confided a former employee once close to him.

Chavhanke has come a long way from helping his father run a tent house in Shirdi. Now with patronage from the RSS and the BJP, he is awaiting his turn to become a Rajya Sabha member, which is said to be his goal at the moment.

This article was updated on April 15 at 12.45 pm to correct the mistake that Chavhanke was in jail on Friday; he was in fact released on bail instead

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Published: 14 Apr 2017, 3:46 PM