Bhubaneswar: Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda on Monday tore into BJD for accusing him of carrying out a motivated campaign against the party through OTV.
Terming it ‘cheap politics’, Panda said, “They (BJD) ignore the fact that OTV has carried every allegation against me. I’m not involved in running OTV, which is run professionally vide a written charter of neutrality and gives all sides a chance to make their point.”
Panda’s statements came soon after senior BJD leaders- Surya Narayan Patro and Pratap Deb moved the Chief Electoral Officer alleging telecast of paid news by OTV in favour of BJP and its candidate Ashok Panigrahi ahead of Bijepur bypoll.
BJD in its petition alleged that MP Baijayant Panda, who happens to be Chairman of Ortel Communication which is the promoter of Odisha Television Limited that runs OTV news, after his suspension is carrying out a baseless, motivated, vilification campaign with a vested interested to defame the State government.
Reacting to BJD’s allegation Panda said, “BJD seems to have become paranoid after Pandian’s political role has been exposed. Instead of making such false complaints, they should use OTV’s neutral platform to make their points to the public, as they used to.”
Later in the day, reacting to the petition filed by his party CM Naveen Patnaik tweeted “Words of Bapu are relevant even today. Press, the Fourth Estate, has great power but to misuse that power is criminal.”
Soon after this tweet from Naveen, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan targeted the CM tweeting, “In politics, attack on press is the first symptom shown by a ruling party rapidly loosing its political ground. Naveen is clearly seeing the writing on the wall. By lodging a false complaint to EC, he is just creating an alibi for his party’s defeat in Bijepur By-poll.”
“Biju Babu in his long political career also faced some opposition from the press but despite Press Bill 1962 duly passed by Odisha Assembly, he ensured that no journalist ever got booked under this law. This is just one of many virtues Naveen Babu never learned from his father,” the Union Minister tweeted.
The BJD’s allegations have not come as a surprise for many as OTV has been on the forefront in telecasting unbiased reports be it on gang rape and subsequent suicide of the minor girl of Kunduli or attack on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s personal secretary VK Pandian’s residence.
Political experts and senior journalists believe that such extensive and factual coverage and reports had troubled the State government and the ruling BJD.
Not only Kunduli suicide or attack on residence of Pandian, OTV has been relentlessly working to inform people across Odisha about every happening.
“The way BJD has filed a complaint against OTV, it appears that it is a deliberate and intentional attempt to settle scores with MP Baijayant Panda who was recently suspended from party,” said senior journalist, Rajaram Satpathy.
Senior journalist Sandeep Sahu said “BJD should have behaved as a confident and matured party. It seems that they are apprehensive about ground fast slipping from under their feet.”
OTV has always tried to cover and report every incident be it the infighting in BJD over MP Jay Panda or egg attack on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at a meeting in Balasore and subsequent assault and misbehavior towards the woman attacker or Bargarh farmer Brunda Sahu’s suicide, Dana Majhi or Nagada or the deaths due to Japanese Encephalitis in Malkangiri.
However, the coverage of the Kunduli incident which was purely based on facts had certainly not gone down well with the BJD-led government. It is being said and felt by many across the State that BJD is intentionally targeting OTV with an aim to suppress the voice of media.
Surprisingly, allegations have surfaced against the BJD for violating the poll code of conduct during this whole process of leveling false and baseless allegations against OTV. Many are questioning that as the model code of conduct is in force, how far it was legitimate for Surya Narayan Pradhan and Pratap Deb to visit the Chief Electoral Officer on a vehicle carrying a badge of the Odisha government.
“When the minister went to the Chief Electoral Officer in a government vehicle he violated the code then and there,” said Senior Lawyer, Manas Mohapatra.