Karnataka elections: Republic TV’s founder faces flak after video of campaigning for BJP goes viral

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The Congress has slammed Republic TV’s co-founder and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, after a video of the latter campaigning for the saffron party candidate in the state went viral.

Republic TV

Reacting to the video, the state’s incumbent chief minister, Siddaramaiah, took a swipe at Chandrasekhar calling Republic TV’s co-owner a ‘simple campaigner for the mining mafia.’ Siddaramaiah’s tweet read, “Money may give him a megaphone to praise the rulers & bark at the opposition. But everyone knows he has no political morality or culture. Is a hypocrite whose lectures have become tiresome. Ultimately he is a simple campaigner for the mining mafia.”

Chandrasekhar quickly responded, “Hallo @siddaramaiah avare ! U n @RahulGandhi r last ppl on planet earth who shd open mouth abt “morality”. ????
I undrstnd ur frustratd bcoz i bust up many piggybnk “projcts”! ? No mre escapng grip of accountblty closng in on u swami.”

This was after the Congress party’s state social media head, Srivatsa, posted a video of Chandrasekhar campaigning for the local BJP candidate, Lallesh Reddy, who’s the nephew of the corruption-tainted mining baron Janardhana Reddy. In the video, Chandrasekhar is seen emerging out of a house as his supporters chant ‘Bharat Maata Ki Jai.’ The Republic TV’s co-founder has a saffron shawl wrapped around his shoulder.

Srivatsa wrote, “BJP MP & Republic TV owner @rajeev_mp campaigning for Janardhana Reddy’s nephew & BJP MLA candidate Lallesh Reddy in BTM layout.
What happened to his ‘crusade’ against corruption & for transparency in Governance?”

Only last week, the Supreme Court had rejected Janardhana Reddy’s plea seeking permission to campaign in Bellari.

The Reddy brothers are facing charges of corruption worth thousands of crores for running illegal running rackets during the BJP government in the state between 2008 and 2013. They were accused of exported iron ore worth Rs 16,000 crore out of India in connivance with their contacts in the BJP-led government.

BJP President Amit Shah had recently said that his party had nothing to do with Janardhan Reddy while BS Yedyurappa, the saffron party’s chief ministerial candidate, had said that he was only ‘helping out.’

Last month, Chandrasekhar had announced that he was resigning from the board of Republic TV that he co-founded with Arnab Goswami in 2017. He was widely mocked for only quitting the board not taking his shares out of the company that owns Republic TV.

Although Chandrasekhar identifies himself as an independent MP, his association with the BJP-led NDA is not a secret anymore. Not too long ago, he had actively campaigned for the NDA in Kerala assembly elections in May 2016.

His ‘independence’ had also come under intense scrutiny in 2016 when an email sent by Amit Gupta, the Chief Operating Officer of Jupiter Capital, was leaked to media. Chandrasekhar owns his media ventures that includes Asianet in Kerala and Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha in Karnataka.

Chandrasekhar campaigning for a BJP candidate raises two questions. First, this brings the editorial impartiality of his TV channel, Republic TV, under scrutiny. His decision to campaign for the family member of corruption accused Reddy family is also in sharp contradiction with his much-publicised claims to launch a crusade against corruption.

Writing for a newspaper last year, soon after VK Sasikala of the AIADMK was jailed on corruption charges, he had said, ” I have no doubt. The conviction of Sasikala should show our state’s corrupt how a game of corruption ends.”

His newspaper column had further added, “In addition to the existing Prevention of Corruption Act, there are a new set of laws that specifically cater to such kinds of corruption by those in government and their crony businesses and so to use our PM’s quote – there is no possibility of anyone wearing a raincoat while taking a shower anymore.”

With Karnataka scheduled to go for elections in next few days, the latest video of Chandrasekhar campaigning for a scam-tainted leader may well backfire for the saffron party.

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