Trust unhappy with Khare turning paper into a Congress pamphlet
Harish Khare, editor-in-chief of Chandigarh-based The Tribune, is learnt to have put in his papers. Although the Left propaganda websites, The Wire, The Print and Scroll.in, have gone to town projecting him a martyr and a victim of government’s high-handedness, sources close to The Tribune Trust vouch that this has nothing to do with “any external pressure or interventionism of the trustees”.
Seventy-year-old Khare’s contract is set to expire on May 31. “That he has put in his papers is his personal decision. His contract is set to expire on May 31 and it is true that the Tribune Trust was in no mood to extend his term, as it had already started search for his successor. He is making a virtue out of this by resigning a few months in advance to claim martyrdom. The propaganda websites turned around the story to suit their agenda,” said a source in The Tribune management.
Khare owes his rise in positions to his closeness to senior Congress leader and Sonia Gandhi’s top aide Ahmed Patel. It’s an open secret that Khare was appointed Manmohan Singh’s media adviser on the recommendation of 10 Janpath and had to resign in 2012 owing to the tension created by him between PMO and the Congress high command. Later, Manmohan Singh brought Pankaj Pachauri to undo the damage.
Sources say that it was Patel who got Khare appointed as the editor-in-chief of The Tribune also. Under Khare’s leadership, The Tribune, known for its credibility and independence, has reduced to a Congress pamphlet. The departure was not appreciated by a section of the trustees and readers. The paper suffered a major crisis of credibility when it had to publish a four-column apology on its front page for carrying unsubstantiated reports about former Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia’s alleged links with drug lords on October 29, 2017, after the Akali leader filed a defamation case. Majithia is yet to withdraw the case.
Another ‘feather in the cap’ of Khare is the publication of an “investigative report from Jalandhar” that showed it was easy to access Aadhaar data. “It may be a good story about a few corrupt people. But to think that it would rattle the Modi government is something farfetched,” said a Unique Identification Authority of India official who doesn’t want to be quoted.
The argument that the Modi government has been targeting journalists doesn’t cut much ice with people who are aware of the ways of Darbari journalists. “Harish has always been an opportunist,” says a senior journalist. “He was all praise for Vajpayee and is close to Arun Jaitley, whom he called the ‘Law Purush’. He supported Sitaram Kesri when the latter was the Congress president and earned the nick-name Harish Kesri. He jumped to the Sonia camp after she became the UPA chairperson,” said a former colleague who doesn’t want to be quoted.
“By projecting Harish a victim, the foreign-funded Left propaganda machines put forward the argument that only stooges of certain Congress leaders are fit to be editors of newspapers. The Wire has brought out a list of journalists who lost their jobs after Narendra Modi came to power. They conveniently hide the fact that Harish became an editor after Modi to power. Also, the list doesn’t contain names of Sandeep Bamzai and Alok Mehta. It has been their practice that if the choice of a paper is not a person of their liking, they would try to tarnish the credibility of the institution and the newcomer,” he added.