The Bharatiya Janata Party never fails to spring surprises. Almost everything the BJP has been doing during the last few months has an aura of “surgical strikes’’, catching opponents unaware and a devil may care attitude. From the pronouncements by the ruling duo to constitutional authorities to party leaders, the impression one gathers is that rules, regulations or codes are not exactly sacrosanct. Think of a state Governor asking people to reelect the present Prime Minister, or a Chief Minister referring to the Indian security forces as “Modiji ki Army”, the launch of the “Main bhi Chowkidar” campaign by the Prime Minister last month being given an hour long live coverage by Doordarshan- to quote a few instances. But the launch of “NaMo” TV, last week has actually stirred up the biggest controversy.
The Na Mo channel’s sudden appearance on the satellite TV firmament is considered mysterious by media observers. There seems to be lack of clarity on who owns the channel. There are many versions on its origin. According to one version its genesis goes back to 2007/ 2012 in Gujarat. The “Vande Gujarat” in 2007 by the BJP, probably was the first step. Later in October 2012 an IT professional and a close aide of Modi, Parag J Shah registered the domain, updated it in September 2018 and the registration would expire in October 2025. It is also reported that Na MoTV.com was registered by the Gujarat unit of the BJP on October 4, 2012. It was in partnership with five local Gujarati channels to counter “fallacious campaign” by the opponents of the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and to “highlight the immense work he has done for his homeland.” Na Mo TV was supposed to have been run by a company called New Hope Infotainment.
Amidst all speculations about who owns the channel, a business newspaper on Wednesday reported that the domain namoTv.com was up for sale and a website message read, “This domain is on sale. Interested in buying this domain please contact ”. The mystery as to who owns the channel has only been confounded. However the channel resurfaced on 31st March and has been on major DTH platforms like Tata Sky[ 512] Dish TV[ 770] and Videocon d2h. It is promoted by the official twitter of the BJP and has the image of the Prime Minister in its logo. It is a 24 hour channel that exclusively features Prime Minister Modi’s speeches and pro BJP programmes.
Starting of the channel when the Model Code of Conduct is in vogue has been questioned by the Aam Admi Party and the Congress on grounds of violation of the Code. The Election Commission has asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for details. Media reports say, government points out that “it is only an advertisement platform and so NaMo TV does not need go ahead.” When NDTV raised the issue with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, he said, “Let the appropriate authorities answer; should not comment. Let Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Election Commission answer.”
It may be mentioned that NaMo TV is not on the list of the I&B Ministry’s list of permitted private satellite television channels on the Ministry’s website. The Election Commission is yet to give a decision as to whether the launch of the channel is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct or not. Interestingly, Tata Sky which earlier tweeted that Na Mo TV is a Hindi news service, denied on Thursday that it is a Hindi news service! Whatever that may be, there are so many unanswered questions. No one seems to know who actually owned the channel; who owns it now; who funds it or whether it is a satellite news channel or an advertisement platform!