‘Secret Syndicate Of Fundamentalists, Periyar Followers Functioning In Tamil Media,’ Says Popular TV Anchor And New BJP Entrant Madan Ravichandran
Tamil MSM is being ruled by those who plan, work and threaten on behalf of Dravidar Kazhagm (DK) or the Left or so-called Periyar followers, the television anchor, who now has his own Madan Diary YouTube Channel, says.
For a person who was seen as neutral in the media and known for grilling those he interviewed, the entry of Madan Ravichandran, a popular television anchor in Tamil channels, into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was a surprise.
Probably, that was the only way out or option for Ravichandran to expose the Tamil mainstream media (MSM).
“Tamil MSM is being ruled by those who plan, work and threaten on behalf of Dravidar Kazhagm (DK) or the Left or so-called Periyar followers,” the television anchor, who now has his own Madan Diary YouTube Channel, told Swarajya.
Over the last five decades, the Periyar followers and Leftists have planned and painted the Right Wingers as “foolish”, he said.
Ravichandran began his journey in the media in 2014 as a part-timer and since 2017, a media job became full-time for him.
It was here, as a producer of programmes, he was a witness to media debates being manipulated in Tamil television channels.
“The debates will usually have three left-wingers pitted against a right-winger. Questions that are to come up in the debate are leaked to the left-wingers. This ends up showing right-wingers on the wrong side of any issue or as bad elements,” Ravichandran says.
For that matter, even getting a job in Tamil television media is a big achievement, he says.
“It is almost impossible for a neutral person to get a job in Tamil television channels. You either have to be a Periyar or an Ambedkar follower to get a job in television channels,” adds Ravichandran.
His own experience is that he was unable to get a permanent job in the media between 2014 and 2016, as often, the human resources professionals in charge of recruitment would reject him based on his Facebook profile.
“Since I used to go trekking to some religious places and also, since I was a devotee of Lord Shiva, they thought I was affiliated to religion. You need to find out why Rangarajan Pandey had to come out of the media house where he worked,” said Ravichandran, for who Pandey is his inspiration.
“There are many young nationalist youths who want to enter the media on seeing Pandey. But they are being prevented from entering the Tamil MSM,” the new BJP entrant said.
Ravichandran says the current recruitment process in Tamil MSM dates back to 1996 when the late Karunanidhi regained power.
“He experienced the power of the media then and thought that just Sun Television was not enough. He brought other media houses into his fold and used them to meet his own ends,” he says.
A few educational institutions such as Chennai Loyola College were all roped in to work as a team to recruit people who were sympathetic to Dravidian causes for various channels.
Most of them who were recruited then have become editors of popular channels now.
These editors do cross verifications of those wanting to enter the media and pick up only those who can espouse the Dravidian causes, according to Ravichandran.
“Even I had to pose like a Periyar follower. You have to feign like a follower going for Periyar meetings, taking selfies there and applaud at such meetings. It helped me get closer to DMK’s Manushya Puthran,” Ravichandran said, adding that even to get closer to the DMK leader you need to buy his book.
“My good rapport with Manushya Puthran helped and he got me a job with Aadhavan channel,” he says.
“There is a secret syndicate which is functioning in Tamil MSM. No one is bothered whether a person wanting to join the television channel is knowledgeable or not. Editors are more interested to know what are a journalists' principles or which leader he/she likes. If you happen to say you like Netaji or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam leader Velupillai Prabhakaran or Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar, you cannot get the job,” says Ravichandran.
After having worked at Aadhavan television, he got a break to work for News7 Channel.
But when he asked questions that made Dravidian leaders uncomfortable, he was pulled up or discriminated against.
“When I asked Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) spokesman Tamizhan Prasanna the rationale behind Tamil film lyricist Vairamuthu pouring milk at the memorial of Karunanidhi in an interview, it was not relished,” says Ravichandran.
More importantly, when he asked Dravidar Kazhagam chief K Veeramani on a remark made by former union minister M K Alagiri’s son Dayanidhi, he walked out.
“Be it left-wingers or right-wingers or Dravidian followers, I always posed tough questions,” Ravichandran says, adding that Vairamuthu during the #MeToo controversy tried to sabotage his interview of A R Reihana, sister of popular musician A R Rahman.
“Various tactics were adopted to scuttle the programme. No tea was served for the guest, the cameraman would switch off the camera and various other tricks were tried. Finally, the Managing Director had to step in and tell the crew to behave,” he recalls.
The popular television anchor even got job offers in some channels where he was asked to simply join and sit quietly.
“When I asked them what I will do, they said I can keep quiet and they will pay me,” he said.
He then joined Win television. “Many think that Win espouses the cause of Hindutva but it is not true,” he says, to narrate another bitter experience.
“I interviewed Jegath Casper Raj, who has been critical of Hindu saints. I asked him about the abuse of women by Christian priests in Kerala. The Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, both Christians, opposed this. I also lost my rapport with the Managing Director because of this,” Ravichandran says.
It was at this time that the novel Coronavirus pandemic began to spread in the country and he was not given his salary for close to three months. “When I asked for the salary, I was asked to leave,” he reminisces.
Ravichandran says even among right-wingers, there are those who support Kanimozhi, daughter of the late Karunanidhi, and make a lot of compromises.
That cost him a contract in launching a new channel.
When he started a channel of his own, investors said they would enter into a contract after six months.
He was questioned as to why he was not targeting DMK youth leader and its president M K Stalin’s son Udayanidhi for sidelining Kanimozhi.
What perhaps affected him most was his report on Thiruporur member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly member V Viswanathan hunting deer and organising a deer meat party.
“The criticism of the report made my investors panic. It was then that I met with an accident, forcing me to keep quiet for two months. I then decided to either launch a political organisation or join a political party,” Ravichandran says.
Meanwhile, five cases were filed against Ravichandran, one for his criticism of Udayanidhi and four for his interview of DK leader and film producer Velu Prabhakaran.
“I got no support from the media or the press council,” he regrets, pointing out that there was nothing such as “brahmin dominance” in Tamil MSM.
“It is these Periyar followers and fundamentalists who dominate the media in Tamil Nadu today,” he regrets.
Ravichandran’s entry into BJP was happenstance as he had not decided to join any particular party.
He went to meet Tamil Nadu BJP chief L Murugan in connection with his YouTube programme “Madan Dairy”.
“Murugan invited me to join his party,” he says, adding that this was just before Karnataka Indian Police Service (IPS) official K Annamalai joined the national party.
“Annamalai joining BJP was a huge motivation for me. I am from a policeman’s family as my father is still in service as sub-inspector in Tamil Nadu. Leaving the police service is a huge sacrifice,” says Ravichandan, explaining what made him join the party.
“I thought about my role. I decided that it was time to expose what was happening in Tamil television media and how right-wingers were being cornered and how BJP was portrayed badly,” he says.
What has impressed Ravichandran about BJP is that it is the “real party that renders social justice”.
“See the States in which BJP is in power. It wants all communities to participate in the State’s development. It is a 360-degrees party all across the country, except Tamil Nadu, where it is shown in a negative image,” he points out.
For Ravichandran, joining BJP was not a problem since his maternal grandfather was part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
His paternal grandfather was a Periyar follower, though.
“I spent my childhood at my maternal grandfather’s place and I went to Sri Ramakrishna school for education. I have learnt Shlokas and am a devotee of Lord Shiva,” proclaims Ravichandran.
He sees the BJP as the only party that can save Tamil Nadu, besides its rich heritage and culture.
“We have temples that are over 2,000 years old in Tamil Nadu. Nothing has been done for their development or to make people aware of them. I strongly believe the BJP can really do things for preserving heritage and culture,” he adds.
For being a mediaperson uncompromising in questioning politicians, Ravichandran has received a number of death threats.
“I even had a personal security officer provided for my security. He was recently removed, for which I suspect the reason is the story on the deer meat,” he says.
The death threats are for asking questions on what Holy books of other religions say on issues such as women when they wrongly quote Manusmriti.
“My questioning is a precursor for a public debate. Let’s debate and find the reasons. Even Shankaracharya held a debate and ended Buddhism in these parts of the country. People get upset when I point out to these things,” he regrets.
But the threat to Ravichandran seems real, as a minority religion leader has put a reward of Rs 15 lakh on his head in suburban Tambaram.
“Even today, when I went to a local court and got anticipatory bail for a case against me, an unknown person approached and said I would be beheaded like the woman in France,” he says.
Ravichandran has been getting silent calls on the Internet and is facing verbal abuses on the road. There has also been an attempt on his life near Guindy, when a lorry attempted to knock him off.
“At a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, a Christian group burnt my effigy. I am amused as to why they burn my effigy when their beliefs are against such things,” he says.
Ravichandran would want many youth, who are inspired by him and persons such as Pandey, to join the media.
“They are being prevented. It has to stop,” he says, adding that currently, he is doing his bit to make the “Vetrivel Yatra”, a tribute to Lord Skanda after a group made a derogatory video on hymns praising him, a success.
“The DMK and a few other religious outfits are trying to scuttle the yatra and are spending money for that purpose,” he says, signing off.
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