Samir Ahluwalia, who was head of Zee Business and is a co-accused with Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhary in the case of alleged extortion of Rs 100 crore, has been forced to resign.
After nearly 19 years with Zee and despite being known as a close confidante of Zee Media Corporation Limited (ZMCL) chairman Dr Subhash Chandra, Ahluwalia tendered his resignation on Monday morning. Newslaundry has learnt that Ahluwalia e-mailed his resignation letter only to a few higher-ups in Zee. A formal announcement is expected later today. Ahluwalia told Newslaundry, “Yes, I have resigned. And it was a voluntary decision. There was no pressure from the management to quit.” The management – which according to sources in Zee, was eagerly waiting for Ahluwalia’s exit – immediately accepted his resignation.
On August 8, Newslaundry had reported on the high drama which unfolded in a town-hall meeting of ZMCL at its Noida office. The foundation for the exit of Ahluwalia and Chaudhary was laid down in that very meeting. Amit Jain, Dr Chandra’s confidante, who chaired that meeting had said, “If somebody thinks that he is involved in the Jindal case and won’t be asked to quit, then he is wrong. Samir, are you listening?” He further conveyed that the chairman had decided to make some changes at the top, which would be implemented in time, sooner or later. “May be sooner,” Jain added, causing pin-drop silence in the meeting.
Since then, the management has apparently been exerting pressure on Ahluwalia to put in his papers.
According to sources, allegations of financial irregularities and his involvement in the Jindal affair along with misuse of authority were the three reasons that the management cited wanted Ahluwalia to leave. Newslaundry has learnt that Ahluwalia feared that the management may sack him and make public their reasons for doing so.
That Samir was counting his last days in Zee became apparent by his conspicuous absence at a bash thrown by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh in Delhi on Sunday. Singh had thrown the party to celebrate Chandra’s victory in the recently-held Rajya Sabha elections. Under normal circumstances, Chandra is accompanied by Sudhir Chaudhary and Ahluwalia, but this time, only Chaudhary was seen by the ZMCL chairman’s side.
Rumours in ZMCL now are that the way is being paved for Chaudhary’s “graceful exit” too. Chaudhary, while being a one-time favourite of Chandra’s, is not popular in the newsroom. There have been complaints from colleagues about his behaviour and the decisions he has taken as Editor, regarding Zee News’s editorial policies, have damaged the channel’s credibility. This is why Chaudhary was considered the target of the town hall meeting. “He knows how to manoeuvre his way with the management,” said a former Zee employee. “But the countdown for Sudhir has already started.”