Jaipur, July 7: The controversy over Ashok Gehlot’s visit to the US was given a new twist with Ravi Shankar Prasad claiming that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had personally informed the Rajasthan chief minister that his file for the visit had been cleared.
The Union information and broadcasting minister came down heavily on Gehlot for levelling “frivolous charges against the Centre in a bid to get political mileage”. Prasad said “such gimmicks were small-time and immature politics”.
The chief minister, Prasad said, continued to pour venom through false public statements suggesting that the Centre was obstructing his visit, despite the highest authority in the country telling him personally about the Centre’s clearance.
Prasad, who along with BJP general secretary in charge of elections Pramod Mahajan was here for a day on Saturday to gear up the party for the forthcoming polls, also said Gehlot was falsely accusing the Vajpayee government of not helping the state in drought relief works. The minister pointed out that Rajasthan had received central assistance of more than Rs 6,000 crore — the maximum among the affected states.
The Union minister also claimed that Gehlot had failed to properly manage relief measures. This, he said, was evident during state BJP chief Vasundhara Raje’s Parivartan Yatra during which people had come forward to complain against the state government’s insensitivity.
Prasad also rubbished the state Congress allegation that Doordarshan and All India Radio personnel were pressured to favour the BJP. “Gehlot had been a disciple of Sanjay Gandhi, whereas I have been Jaiprakash Narain’s follower,” he quipped, referring to Emergency when there were restrictions on the media.
The information and broadcasting minister also allayed fears of “cultural pollution” by Pakistan’s PTV, saying it was not a creative channel an d had no takers in this country. Hardly 5 per cent of the viewers watch PTV, while there was a great “hunger” for Indian channels in Pakistan, he pointed out.
However, cautioning against false propaganda by the channel, Prasad added that this was being effectively countered by India. Doordarshan’s territorial reach is being expanded in border areas and will easily reach the neighbouring country, he pointed out. In Rajasthan, three high power transmitters have been planned for Doordarshan. Two will be set up in the border areas of Barmer and Bikaner and the third at Ajmer, he said.
The minister maintained that the conditional access system (CAS) and the Direct-to-Home system could co-exist in the country, though the later was a costlier technology. CAS, he said, would revolutionise the television scenario and would be extended to other cities “following its success” in the four metros.