Zee News drama: Sudhir Chaudhary offers to quit

Fans, rest easy. Sudhir Chaudhary hasn’t left the channel, but he did offer to carry out the ‘Kamaraj Plan’

WrittenBy:Anurag Tripathi
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On July 26, in the afternoon, an official e-mail landed in the inboxes of Zee Media Corporation Limited (ZMCL) employees. It informed them of a town hall meeting that would be held at its premises in Sector 16A, Noida. The e-mail carried strict instructions message for all employees to be present for the meeting, which would be held at 10.30am on July 27, regardless of leave and shifts. Members of outstation bureaus were also asked to be part of the meeting via video conferencing.

Town hall meetings of ZMCL are generally addressed by its chairman, Dr Subhash Chandra. But this time, it was to be conducted by Dr Chandra’s confidante, Amit Jain. “Whenever there is likely to be a change in upper management, it’s Jain who is designated by the chairman to convey the message,” an ex-employee of Zee Business, who worked with the organisation for more than nine years, told Newslaundry.

The meeting started with Jain showing a very short video clip depicting the expansion plan of the organisation. Immediately after the clip ended, he delivered this speech: “Let me tell each and every one of you that the chairman has a strong message for a few people of this organisation. If somebody thinks that Sudhir Chaudhary can’t be terminated because of his celebrity status, then he is wrong.” One ZMCL employee told Newslaundry that Jain then looked towards Chaudhary and said, “No one is a celebrity out here.”

For those unfamiliar with Zee News, Chaudhary is the channel’s editor Zee News and anchors the popular primetime show, DNA. The whispers in Zee’s corridors are that Dr Chandra is miffed at the growing clout Chaudhary enjoys with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Equally, Chandra is rumoured to be worried about the depleting credibility of Zee News as a journalistic organisation.

After Chaudhary, it was the turn of Samir Ahluwalia, who heads Zee Business and is a co-accused with Chaudhary in a case of alleged extortion of Rs 100 crore from industrialist Naveen Jindal. “If somebody thinks that he is involved in Jindal case and won’t be asked to quit, then he is wrong. Samir, are you listening?,” said Jain, according to an eyewitness. He further conveyed that the chairman had decided to make some changes at the top, which would be implemented sooner or later. “May be sooner,” Jain added, causing pin-drop silence.

“Sudhir Chaudhary asked Jain if he can speak and when allowed, he offered to adopt ‘Kamaraj Plan’ and offered to resign along with other senior members of his team,” an eyewitness to the event told Newslaundry. In 1963, K Kamaraj, the then chief minister of Madras, proposed to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that all senior Congress leaders holding ministerial office resign and take up party work. It was termed as ‘Kamaraj Plan’ to save Congress’s face after India was defeated by China in a war in 1962.

Chaudhary’s proposal was ignored by Jain, who said, “No one is beyond scrutiny in this organisation and those who err will have to face the music.” Newslaundry tried to get in touch with Chaudhary and Ahluwalia. While Chaudhary did not answer our calls or reply to our texts, Ahluwalia refused to comment, saying, “I do not comment on internal matters of Zee.” If we receive any response from Chaudhary, we will update this article.

The day after the meeting, an e-mail was sent by Jain to all ZMCL employees stating that he would be sitting with Human Resources till July 29 and any employee with any complaint against the higher-ups can approach him. Newlaundry has learnt that more than 250 employees met Jain in a period of three days and vented their displeasure about editorial policies and functioning of the organisation. “Zee has lost huge credibility in the last few years. We told Mr Jain that we have been reduced to a mouthpiece of a particular party,” an employee of ZMCL told Newslaundry. Apparently, Chandra’s new venture, an English news channel named WION (short for “World Is One News”) is struggling to staff its newsroom and the prevailing belief is that journalists are saying no to the offers — generous as they may be — because of Zee News’s reputation.

If only Chaudhury would do a DNA-style analysis of the warnings issued by Chandra at the town hall that Jain addressed…


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