Reading between the lines of Panchajanya
Dipankar Chakraborty, The Statesman ,
NEW DELHI, March 10. — Panchajanya, a Sangh Parivar publication, once edited by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, appears to have come under a cloud after alleged financial irregularities involving the magazine surfaced recently.
Sources told The Statesman that the RSS top brass is seized of the matter and is contemplating action against those believed to be responsible for tarnishing the image of the publication. Charges range from “misusing” the name of the magazine to collect advertisements and financial assistance to floating parallel publications and souvenirs besides diversion of money to bank accounts other than that of Bharat Prakashan, the publisher of Panchajanya.
When the Statesman on the basis of certain documents in its possession talked to RSS leader and director of Panchajanya, Mr Ram Madhav, he termed the allegations levelled against the editor of the magazine, Mr Tarun Vijay, “baseless”. He denied that the RSS had anything to do with the publication of the magazine and said he had no information about alleged financial irregularities. He also denied that the RSS was contemplating removal of the editor. Being editor of Panchajanya did not mean that you could not work elsewhere, he added.
Copies of some of the documents and bank statements with The Statesman show that money collected through publications and souvenirs was diverted to different bank accounts. Not a single paise went to the Panchajanya’s bank account although the money was collected in the name of Panchajanya, sources alleged. A separate bank account in the name of M/S Samarsatta Granth Samiti was opened in the Rani Jhansi Road branch of Syndicate Bank in New Delhi. Financial assistance was sought, through bank draft only, in the name of Macchan (a Noida-based publication) for publishing Samrasta Ke Sutra, a commemorative publication to mark the birth centenary of RSS ideologue Guru Golwalkar.
At an internal meeting of board of directors of Panchajanya in December 2000 a section of board members had objected to the use of the Panchajanya logo and address (Sanskriti Bhawan, Deshbandhu Gupta Marg New Delhi-110055) for “Panchajanya Nachiteka Prathisthan”, set up on 24 December 1999 with its bank account at Jhandewalan Extension branch of Punjab National Bank. “Panchajanya Nachiketa Prathisthan” had Mr Vajpayee, Mr K Sudershan, Mr S Gurumurthy, Mr Balbir Punj and Mr Tarun Vijay as prominent members. The board members also took exception to collection of funds in the name of “Bharat Gaurav Smarika” using Panchajanya’s name.
On 30 May 2002 as petroleum minister in the NDA government, Mr Ram Naik responding to a request released Rs 85,000 as advertisement to “Panchajanya Nachiketa Prathisthan” for its Daridra Narayan souvenir. A separate bank account was also allegedly opened for the “Kirtikalash-Bharat Gaurav Smarika” under the aegis of Panchajanya Nachiketa Pratisthan. Cheques and drafts were solicited in the name of Bharat Gaurav Smarika, not Bharat Prakashan, publishers of Panchajanya.
In a letter dated 7 December 2006, issued by Madhya Pradesh government’s public relations secretariat to “Hrittik Prakashan” bearing the post box number (5803) of Panchajanya’s Jhandewalan office, an order for 200 copies of a book on Kailash Mansarovar published by Hrittik Prakashan, a publishing house owned by the wife of Mr Tarun Vijay, was placed. It is alleged that large amounts of money collected in the name of the magazine were siphoned off. It is also being alleged that the editor of Panchajanya runs the Indian Institute of Information Technology, based at Jhajhar in Dehra Dun and collected large amounts during the NDA rule at the Centre.
Rubbishing all charges against him, Mr Tarun Vijay said he could account for all the money collected through any of the organisations and publications. He denied charges of financial irregularities in the Indian Institute of Information Technology of which he is also one of the board members. He said the institute was supporting 150 tribals from North-eastern states and vested interests were spreading all kinds of false information against him.
“I don’t run the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Dehradun, alone. It also has Mr Ashok Jhunjhunwallah of wireless loop-technology fame as one of the board members. The institute is supporting 150 tribal students from North-eastern states. If there were any financial irregularities in its running then chief minister Mr ND Tiwari would not have sanctioned a grant to us. Being in Panchajanya does not mean you cannot work for weaker sections of society,” Mr Vijay asserted. “There is not a single case of financial irregularities against me. To what extent do you expect me to go to prove my innocence against these baseless allegations?” he asked.
Mr Tarun Vijay admitted that his wife owned Hritik Prakashan and it had come out with “a widely acclaimed book” on Kailash Mansarovar. “The book was sold through the then RSS chief Rajju Bhaiya and Sudershan ji’s consent. Both the RSS leaders recommended that the book should be widely read,” he said.
The Panchajanya Nachiketa Sansthan (PNS) instituted the Nachiketa Award for best journalist with the consent of the RSS leaders who were signatories to it, he added. About alleged irregularities in funds management, Mr Vijay said the auditors to Panchajanya maintained the account of PNS. “There is no room for any wrong doing. It (PNS) was formed to celebrate the golden jubilee of Panchajanya under the aegis of RSS. Daridra Narayan was a souvenir. Not a single paise was collected without the prior approval of PNS ‘nayasi’ (board members). Every single paise is accounted for,” he said.
On the allegations about Macchan publishing House, which had come out with Samrastra Ke Sutra, the Panchajanya editor said it was approved by RSS chief Mr Sudershan and the book was distributed at RSS branches across the country.