Modi is front-runner in LS polls: Dr Vijay Darda

Media Coverage | 31-05-2023

Vidarbha will become a separate state, asserts former member of Rajya Sabha

Given the present situation in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to be the front-runner in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. Moreover, Vidarbha will become a separate state at an appropriate time, asserted the chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media Group and former member of Rajya Sabha Dr Vijay Darda during a candid conversation with renowned anchor and consulting editor of India Today Television Rajdeep Sardesai here on Tuesday.


Rajdeep Sardesai: I am very honoured to interview Dr Vijay Darda. Way back when we started the Marathi channel IBN-Lokmat, I had apprehensions as he was a Congress Rajya Sabha member and they had a government at the Centre and the state too, so I thought it would be difficult to be objective. But I must say, he never interfered even once. That was the time when the Adarsh scam came to light and his brother was in the government but he did not ask me to drop the story against the government even once. He said if the story is right please go ahead with it. Not many proprietors and editors would do that. And that is what he has done in this book. Tell me Dr Darda, how difficult it is to be a politician as well as a media person? You must be getting phone calls for writing or not writing something.

Dr Darda: First of all, I thank you all. First, you have to go back to my roots. We are a Marathi newspaper group and it was started by my father who was a freedom fighter and he even went to jail. When in 1971 we made it a daily, I asked him how we should run the newspaper. He said your pen should be free. You should write without fear or favour. If you want to earn respect, keep away from the government. You should think about the common man. I put editor-owners in two categories: The ones with ideals and higher motives to work for, and the others who just want to make money. We published a whole page against Indiraji and she called my father. My father said, “Madam I cherish the freedom of my journalists. Please don’t worry about such trivial things.” I would say I never felt any fear while discharging my duties as I always thought about the common people and their interests. Another instance was of a story we published about a girl who was kept hostage for six years for a small sum of money in the constituency of the then chief minister S B Chavan. He was furious and said if the news is wrong, I would put both of you in jail. We stood by our report as the report was not wrong. We did not budge. We have always maintained high standards of journalistic ethics and upheld the truth and that is the reason why Lokmat has attained such a height.


Rajdeep: Do you still believe Vidarbha will become a separate state or it will remain a part of Maharashtra?

Dr Darda: When the announcement for three smaller states of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh was made, the then Union home minister Lal Krishna Advani relented before Shiv Sena. However, Vidarbha will become a separate state at an appropriate time. Now or later, a firm stand will have to be taken on the matter.

Rajdeep: Do you think Modiji will score a hat-trick and return to power in 2024? What will happen in the Assembly polls in Maharashtra?


Dr Darda: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the front-runner in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. However, it is very difficult to predict anything about Maharashtra today. It is a matter of introspection as to why so many MLAs parted ways with Shiv Sena and senior leaders left Congress.

Rajdeep: Will Congress get a new lease of life, now that Mallikarjun Kharge has become president?

Dr Darda: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge is a senior leader having vast political experience. Similarly, the party needs young, dynamic and internationally acclaimed leaders like Dr Shashi Tharoor. This will help energise the party workers.


Rajdeep: You have talked about the grandeur of the new Parliament building. Do you think the grandeur of the building would make the Parliament strong or the behaviour of people?

Dr Darda: I am not against the new Parliament building. It is good and that’s that. When it comes to the strength of Parliament, there should be healthy debates and discussions. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that. But having said that, I would also say that it is the duty of the Opposition too to engage in meaningful discussions rather than stalling the Parliament. After all, so much public money is involved in running the Parliament.

Rajdeep: The rift between the media and the politicians is growing. The politicians are becoming more and more intolerant of their criticism. Earlier, they just would call to show their displeasure but now they boycott you. What do you have to say?

Dr Darda: I think both are to blame for this. I put politicians in three categories: First, those who became politicians by serving the senior politicians by running after them; second, the supplement type politicians who extend greetings on birthdays and give big advertisements in support of their leaders; and the third are those politicians who work at the grassroots level. What can you expect from the first two categories who are sycophants and are not there to serve the people but to gain power. They think they can gag the media with money or threats. They get personal which is not good for democracy.

Renowned anchor and consulting editor of India Today Television Rajdeep Sardesai interacting with chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media Group and former member of Rajya Sabha Dr Vijay Darda in New Delhi on Tuesday.

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