Paranjoy Guha Thakurta resigned as editor of the respected Economic & Political Weekly on Tuesday after office-bearers of the Sameeksha Trust, expressed lack of trust in him. Mr. Thakurta was also asked to take down two articles criticising corporate house Adani Power Limited, a business subsidiary of Adani Group, by the trustees.
Mr. Thakurta told The Hindu that the trustees believed he had changed the character and ethos of the influential publication in his 15-month tenure, which had made them unhappy. He also said the trustees informed him of their decision to hire the services of a co-editor and impressed upon him the need to codify a set of rules explaining the terms of engagement for the editor of the publication.
According to Mr. Thakurta, he was directed to take down two articles on the Adani subsidiary with immediate effect. The former editor also said the trustees had expressed hurt and indignation at not being informed of the decision or seek the prior consent of the trustees before engaging the services of a lawyer to respond to a notice sent last month by the Adani group following the publication of the articles. “I acknowledged and apologised for this.”
“After the legal notice was sent to me last month, I engaged the services of a lawyer to put together a reply. I acknowledge the mistake made in not seeking the prior approval of the trustees before hiring the services of the lawyer and apologised for making this procedural error,” he said.
Mr. Thakurta clarified that his reply to the business group was sent to the trustees and was prominently displayed on the website of the magazine on their receipt. “After the trustees stated that I had put them to great professional, personal and financial risk, I explained to them that the article was fact-checked and correct and that concern was misplaced as no court of law had been moved yet, implying there was no criminal case yet.”
Asked whether the view of the trustees was unanimous, he said the Sameeksha Trust chairman Deepak Nayyar, the managing trustee D.N. Ghosh, and four trustees present, which included historian Romila Thapar, sociologist Dipankar Gupta, Ambedkar University Vice-Chancellor Shyam Menon, and CSDS director Rajeev Bhargava, were unanimous in their decision to take down the articles.
Dr. Nayyar and other trustees did not respond to queries from The Hindu .