IS FORMER editor and flamboyant media personality Pritish Nandy a blackmailer? Does he arm-twist institutions into sponsoring his programmes that appear on various channels? The Industrial Development Bank of India’s sole advertising agency, Adfactor, certainly seems to think so.
The agency has lashed out at the “dirty blackmailing tactics” of Mr. Nandy and senior officials of the agency insist that Mr. Nandy arm-twisted them into sponsoring his programmes on July 5, 8 and 12 on the National Network and DD II.
“People like him should be exposed. Nandy hit us below the belt when we were most vulnerable. He threatened to intensify his campaign against us during the IDBI public issue by exposing the loans that the IDBI gave to the meet-processing unit Al-Kabeer. It is nothing to do with his love for animals but sheer greed,” said Mr. Rajesh Chaturvedi, partner in the agency, which handles the IDBI account.
Mr. Pritish Nandy got in touch with the agency on June 25 in order to seek sponsorship for his programmes, Heads and Tails and Top Job and made it clear that the IDBI’s credibility would be damaged if he (Mr Nandy) went public with the fact that the IDBI had issued loans to a meet-processing unit called Al-Kabeer, Mr Chaturvedi said.
“Naturally, such adverse publicity at a crucial juncture when the IDBI was about to enter the market would have a fall-out. Thus, we offered to buy spots on his programmes. However, this did not suit Mr. Nandy and he went ahead and issued a release to UNI. The same Press release was then released to PTI highlighting Al-Kabeer’s link with IDBI,” alleged Mr Chaturvedi.
Mr. Chaturvedi said that it was to avoid complications of this sort that another senior partner of Adfactor Madan Behl called on Mr Nandy at his Carmichael Road residence on July 2 and made a deal. Following the negotiations, the IDBI decided to sponsor two of Mr. Pritish Nandy’s programmes, Head and tails on July 5 and 12 and Top Job on July 8.
“Head and Tails is shown at 3 pm on afternoons. Top Job comes on at 9 am. Can you imagine what kind of viewer ship such trash programmes will have? Despite protestations of my media planners, we went ahead and sponsored the programmes thereby literally throwing away Rs 10-12 lakhs on trash” Mr Chaturvedi said.
Mr Chaturvedi claimed that Mr. Rajiv Bajaj, editor of a Bombay-based newspaper, The Daily too lobbied on behalf of Mr Pritish Nandy. “Rajiv Bajaj called me atleast 10 times and said,’ Kuch kar na Pritish ke liye’ (Do something for Pritish).
Mr Nandy contributes a coloumn to The Daily newspaper every Sunday. However, talking to The Pioneer, Mr. Rajiv Bajaj denied the allegation that he had called Adfactor on behalf of Mr. Nandy. Dubbing the allegations as “sheer rubbish”, Bajaj said: ” If I want advertisements, I will lobby for my paper. Yes, Pritish Nandy is a friend. But that is that. He writes for my paper. As for what he does to get advertisements for his programmes, how do I know?”
Mr Nandy was flabbergasted about the allegations, pointed out that his campaign against Al Kabeer had been going on for a year, and claimed that he did issues Press releases against Al Kabeer to UNI and PTI. “Some Jain brokers came to me with news about IDBI connection with Al-Kabeer. So, I went ahead and issued a Press release.”
Mr. Nandy claimed that “powerful forces” had allegedly blanked out news in the media about major demonstrations by various organizations in Uttar Pradesh against the IDBI and Al-Kabeer.
“It is amazing that no newspaper covered this agitation. The charges against me are nothing new. Non-governmental organizations like us (Mr Nandy runs ‘People for Animals’ organization along with Ms Maneka Gandhi) have to face this kind of allegations from time to time”, he said.
Denying that he had ever struck any deal with Adfactor, the former editor of the Illustrated Weekly said: “If at all, I want to contact anybody in IDBI, I will contact the chairman, Mr Khan and nobody else.” He however, admitted that he had indeed met Mr Behl on July 2. “Mr Behl requested me to not link IDBI with Al-Kabeer. There was no deal” declared Mr Nandy.
Mr Nandy further admitted that his marketing professionals might have met officials of IDBI’s advertising agency. “They (IDBI) were entering the market. Naturally, like everyone else, my marketing men must have approached the IDBI. But to say thet I blackmailed them is nonsense” he said.
By Ketan Tanna