‘Arun Jaitley’s nominees’ rejected by board to head PTI News, Modi supporters left seething


Narendra Modi government has been left red-faced after attempts by one of its most influential ministers to ‘force’ journalist of his choice to head the national news agency, PTI, were rejected by the board of directors on Friday.

PTI, India’s premier news agency, has been on the lookout for MK Razdan’s successor for quite sometime. Its board of directors, which predominantly consists of owners and editorial heads of India’s leading media houses, met on Friday to deliberate the three names reportedly ‘recommended’ by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Jaitley, who also hold the Information and Broadcasting portfolio in the Modi government, had reportedly prompted the three names to apply for the role.

These names are Ashok Malik, a columnist and TV commentator who was awarded the Padma Shri in January this year, K.A. Badrinath, formerly of the Financial Chronicle, and Shishir Gupta, executive editor of the Hindustan Times. 

All three names are known for their explicit inclination towards the saffron party and its ideologies.

Sources told www.jantakareporter.com that although Razdan felt that he was ‘getting old’ and somebody else ought to have replaced him to provide editorial leadership to staff working for the PTI, he minced no words while opposing the idea of appointing known ‘proponents of saffron ideology.’

Another  source requesting anonymity quoted Razdan as saying, “I’ve worked tirelessly all my life to build the editorial credibility of PTI and I will never allow this to be compromised because of political interference.”

Razdan’s stand received huge support from the board members, who rejected the three names outright.

Among those who form the PTI’s board of directors are Hormusji N Cama Chairman (The Bombay Samachar), Riyad Mathew, Vice Chairman (Malayala Manorama), Vineet Jain, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd., Mahendra Mohan Gupta, Jagran Prakashan Ltd., Aveek Kumar Sarkar, ABP Pvt. Ltd.(publisher of The Telegraph), Viveck Goenka, The Express Group (publisher of Indian Express), Vijay Kumar Chopra, The Hind Samachar Ltd., M P Veerendra Kumar The Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Co. Ltd., N Ravi, The Hindu, Sanjoy Narayan, HT Media Ltd., K N Shanth Kumar, The Printers (Mysore) Pvt. Ltd., R Lakshmipathy, Dinamalar.

The four independent directors on PTI board are Jimmy F. Pochkhanawalla, Shyam Saran, Prof. Deepak Nayyar, Justice R.C. Lahoti.

The decision to turn down the candidature of journalists, known to have soft spot for right-wing ideologies, has left the supporters of BJP and Modi infuriated.

Madhu Kishwar, a known Modi supporter, took to twitter to criticise Razdan.

She said, “‘We have staved off major attempt at saffronization of PressTrust of India- bigger victory than battle during Emergency’ says PTI chief Razdan. Not as if Yogi Adityanath was being foisted on PTI.Razdan gloating over blocking @MalikAshok.That’s how far go saving turf. (sic)”

Kishwar was rapped on twitter for dragging Razdan’s daughter, Nidhi Razdan, into the debate as many felt this was in extremely poor taste.

Senior journalist, Swati Chaturvedi, who was the first to ‘break’ the news on twitter on Saturday chided Kishwar.

She said, “Dear heard of the term professional? Does a father have agency over his daughter or vice versa? Shame!(sic)”

On Saturday Swati congratulated Vinit Jain of Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, which own Times Group of publications, for taking a ‘firm stand’ to ensure no sycophant was allowed to head the PTI in future.

Her tweet said, “Kudos to for the firm stand he took at the PTI board he ensured that no sycophant choice was allowed to lower its standards.”

Jain was quick to issue a denial saying he had taken no stand describing it a misinformation.

But Jain’s denial was widely deemed as a prudent exercise to avoid controversy.

Known cartoonist Manjul summed it up well when he tweeted this, “@bainjal and people expect mr @vineetjaintimes to thump his chest after this…he is not a politician.”


Sarkar’s whose newspaper The Telegraph, has been causing stir with anti-establishment front page headlines lately, was in London and could not attend the board meeting. But, sources said that he too had expressed his displeasure about the ‘government nominees’ known to other members.

PTI, which has been in operation since 1948, has established its reputation as a news agency priding in editorial independence.

Many board members say that any attempts to dilute this independence will be nothing less than a catastrophe for journalism, which is already facing one of its worst crisis on credibility in India.

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