It's my duty to expose blackmailers: Jindal
Even before Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL)’s press conference kicked off at an unlikely venue, the crowded hall of the National Sports Club of India, theatricals were on the cards. After all, video footage of a “first-time sting by a corporate entity" on a media house (Zee) for “extortion and blackmail" would be screened.
In the midst of the screening, watched by a rapt audience of journalists, JSPL Chairman and Congress Member of Parliament Naveen Jindal was interrupted by one ‘Rameshji’, who vowed to “expose the hypocrite Jindal". In the ensuing pandemonium, the question-and-answer session slated to be held later had to be called off.
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Jindal, whose public persona is that of ‘the man who fought for our right to unfurl the national flag’, began his speech recalling how the media had aided him in this fight. He, however, added it was his duty to expose the ‘blackmailers’ among the “fourth pillar of democracy" to ensure the “national media is (perceived to be) above suspicion."
Jindal said Zee news and business channels first started airing defamatory stories against JSPL in connection with the coal scam, adding the media house then demanded Rs 20 crore to ensure the stories weren’t aired. The demand was later raised to Rs 100 crore.
A screening of the footage of the sting operation followed. Perusing the grainy footage with clear subtitles left most journalists uncomfortable, as names of prominent media houses were bandied as examples of “all media be completely sold in this country." At one point, a Zee news channel reporter was seen telling a Jindal Steel representative, “At least we are doing a transparent deal with you…at least we are not doing a front-page story which is paid."
In the midst of the disclosures, a few voices shouted, “Jindal, stop this sham right away". Most thought the voices were those of Zee news channel journalists, only to discover it was Ramesh Agarwal, an RTI (Right to Information) activist from Chhattisgarh, in a wheelchair, with his leg in a cast.