Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar on Tuesday alleged that Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) refused to broadcast his Independence Day address unless he "reshaped" it. Sarkar called it an "undemocratic, autocratic and intolerant step".

Sarkar's speech was supposed to be broadcast on Tuesday by Doordarshan and AIR in Tripura.

Source: b'Manik Sarkar alleged that Doordarshan and AIR refused to broadcast his Independence Day address| Source: PTI'

What's the controversy all about?

As per a Tripura Government press statement, Doordarshan and AIR had recorded Sarkar's speech on August 12. However, at 7 pm on August 13, a fresh letter asking for changes arrived at the Chief Minister's office.

The letter says, "The message of the Chief Minister was closely examined by the competent authority. In view of the sanctity of the occasion, the broadcast code and responsibility of the public broadcaster it is not possible to telecast it in the present format."

"However, Doordarshan/Prasar Bharati will be happy if the chief minister agrees to reshape the content making it suitable to the solemnity of the occasion and sentiment of the people."

Here's the letter:

What had Sarkar said in his speech?

Here are some excerpts from Sarkar's speech:

"Unity in diversity is India's traditional heritage. Great values of secularism have helped in keeping Indians together as a nation. Today, the spirit is under attack. Conspiracies and attempts are underway to create an undesirable complexity and divisions in our society; to invade our national consciousness in the name of religion, caste and community, by inciting passions to convert India into a particular religious country and in the name of protecting the cow."

Sarkar also said,

"These unholy tendencies cannot be harboured or tolerated. These disruptive attempts are contrary to the goals, dreams and ideals of our freedom struggle. The followers of those who are not associated with the independence movement, rather sabotaged the freedom movement, were servile to the atrocious, plunderer and merciless British, aligned with the anti-national forces having decorated themselves today in different names and colours are striking at the root of unity and integrity of India."

You can read the full text here:

But the Tripura CM refused to make the changes

A statement released  by the CMO says, "The chief minister clearly stated that he would not change a single word and described it as unprecedented, undemocratic, autocratic and intolerant step."

A controversy has now erupted with government under the scanner

Sarkar, in an interview, said this reminded him of Emergency.

"Independence Day is a day for introspection. Every citizen has the right to review to assess to identify the areas of achievement, areas of failure and gaps and also to find out the ways and means how to overcome these gaps, this is what I have done. It may appear that the policy of central government is being criticised, so what is wrong there?" he told NDTV.

Source: b"Sarkar's speech was supposed to be broadcast on Tuesday by Doordarshan and AIR in Tripura| Source: PTI"

The move has come from fire under CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury who said Doordarshan was "not the private property" of the BJP-RSS and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "instructing his cronies to black out voices" of the opposition, including that of an elected chief minister.

Tagging the tweet, Yechury hit out at the central government saying the channel's alleged refusal to air Sarkar's speech was "illegal".

The move has come under fire on social media too:

What's the Modi government's response?

While Prasar Bharati chairman A Surya Prakash is yet to react to the controversy, The Times of India quotes a "a senior government functionary" saying, "No rule was violated and the call was taken by the broadcasters, at their own level. DD or AIR was not nudged to act in a certain way. If that had been the case, we would have had problems with other chief ministers as well." 

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(With Inputs From PTI)

(Feature Image Source: PTI)