Ahmedabad, Oct. 26: Narendra Modi is apparently confident of reaping political gains from the Tehelka expose but his administration would not allow Ahmedabad to watch his acolytes gloating over grisly murders during the riots of 2002.
The Ahmedabad collector, who also doubles as district election officer, today ordered cable operators to black out television channels beaming the sting operation that shows Sangh parivar leaders claiming that the chief minister gave them a free hand during the post-Godhra riots.
Collector Dhananjay Dwivedi cited the possibility of the programme inciting violence in the sensitive district but Election Commission sources in Delhi said no order has gone out of its office banning the telecast of the Tehelka tapes.
Dwivedi, said to be close to Modi and recently transferred to Ahmedabad from Saurashtra, justified the blackout, saying it was “irresponsible” on the part of the channels to telecast the revelations.
BJP leaders, who were claiming throughout the day that they expected the tapes to ensure polarisation of votes in the December Assembly elections and help Modi, sought to distance themselves from the blackout.
They said the order must have been issued by “overzealous” officials and efforts were on to “review” it.
A leader pointed out that such an order was not issued in any other district in the state.
Till late tonight, no cable operator in Ahmedabad — one of the worst-affected districts during the riots — had resumed beaming the channels that were showing the tapes.
However, other sources said the collector could not have issued such an order without intervention from the political leadership.
Even before the collector’s directive went out, some cable operators had started blocking the channels, citing “technical reasons”.
Harsalbhai Pandya of Siticable, one of the city’s two main multi-service operators (which provide signals to local cable operators), said the channels were taken off air in line with the model code of conduct now in force.
But the state’s additional chief electoral officer, Ashok Manek, denied that the Election Commission had issued the order to switch off channels. “It is the collector’s decision. We have nothing to do with it,” he said.
The big cable networks had also gone off the air abruptly when Modi was shown walking out of a Karan Thapar interview recently beamed on CNN-IBN. That interruption had also been blamed on a “technical” snag.