M.Venkaiah Naidu and Rahul Gandhi

The Congress talking of democracy and fundamental rights is like the devil quoting scriptures. The Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is frustrated and depressed as their party has been losing State after State with their leaders including Chief Ministers and PCC Presidents deserting the party, while the popularity of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has been growing with each passing day both inside and outside the country.

With no prospects of faring well in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh polls even after showing readiness strike unnatural and unholy alliances, the outburst of Mr. Gandhi against the Prime Minister is out of frustration and depression. Every criticism the Congress made suits the party better as it was the Congress which imposed emergency, curtailed the fundamental rights of the people and imprisoned more than three lakh people from Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan to a 12 year old boy. It was Congress which was imposed censorship and censored the daily news.

It is the Congress which superseded Supreme Court Judges, advocated committed Judiciary, amended the Constitution and put the opposition in jail. It is the Congress which extended the tenure of the Parliament from 5 to 6 years – all these to save one family member from being unseated as per a court verdict. The darkest hour in the country was the imposition of emergency by Congress. It is the congress which ruled the country for more than 50 years and only the wrong policies pursued by Congress have resulted in large portion of people being illiterate, urban-rural divide, rich-poor divide, economic disparities, black money generation and so forth.

It is the Congress which adopted double standards by devaluing important institutions and promoting family rule. It is the Congress which obsessed with power and tried to silence its critics and opposition and misused Article 356 several times and promoted wholesale defections. We have no problems in facing any questions. There is nothing to worry and nothing to fear.

Those who are protesting now and expressing concern about freedom of press had never opened their mouth when channels were banned 26 times during UPA regime. Country is watching. The only difference is it was Congress then and it is BJP now. People can draw their own conclusion as to why they were silent then and verbally violent now.

I would like to remind Congress Vice-President that it was the UPA Government which stipulated for the first time the norms for coverage of terrorist activities and also what makes coverage amounting to coverage against the interests of the Nation.

In an advisory issued to all media agencies on December 3,2008, the then UPA stated the following:

“Unbalanced reporting of news about terrorist attacks is likely to inhibit the return to normalcy in the circumstance and indirectly supports the basic design of the terrorists to create chaos.

Repeated visuals and stories pertaining to the attack which would make the terrorists feel their attack was a success, should therefore be avoided. Continued unbalanced reporting which inhibits restoration of normalcy and propagates a feeling of insecurity may be treated as coverage against the interests of the nation and attract appropriate action under Rules”.

-It is hence, clear that the UPA Government wanted media to abide by some norms violation of which amounts to acting against the interests of the country.

-Such concerns of UPA government, shared by this Governments, found to be violated by both the Governments from to time, led to incorporation of Rule 6 (1)(P) last year. It was found necessary since a Rule would be more binding than an advisory.

-In this back drop of having defined the norms of coverage and what constitutes anti-national coverage, how can we be accused of curbing the freedom of media?

-If a Rule is there on statute book and if it is violated, is it the case of Congress party that no action should be taken, even if it concerns national interests?

-I appeal to all not to make a controversy out of nothing.

-If Congress Party wants to debate what constitutes national interests and if no action is to be taken when they are violated, we are ready for such a discussion in the coming session of Parliament.

-It is ridiculous to say that PM Shri Modi is obsessed with power. The entire Nation knows who and which family is obsessed with power and for which the country was thrown into the dark days of Emergency.

-The other day only, PM said that coming generations too should discuss the consequences of such anti-democratic emergency so that none could think of doing the same again.

Mr Naidu also read out from the following portions of a Supreme Court judgment in the wake of the Mumbai 26/11 terror attack Vide case no: CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.1899-1900 OF 2011, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1961 OF 2011 & TRANSFER PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO.30 OF 2012 dated AUGUST 29,2012.

‘Any attempt to justify the conduct of the TV channels by citing the right to freedom of speech and expression would be totally wrong and unacceptable in such a situation. The freedom of expression, like all other freedoms under Article 19, is subject to reasonable restrictions. An action tending to violate another person’s right to life guaranteed under Article 21 or putting the national security in jeopardy can never be justified by taking the plea of freedom of speech and expression.’

‘The shots and visuals that were shown live by the TV channels could have also been shown after all the terrorists were neutralized and the security operations were over. But, in that case the TV programmes would not have had the same shrill, scintillating and chilling effect and would not have shot up the TRP ratings of the channels. It must, therefore, be held that by covering live the terrorists attack on Mumbai in the way it was done, the Indian TV channels were not serving any national interest or social cause. On the contrary they were acting in their own commercial interests putting the national security in jeopardy.’

‘It is in such extreme cases that the credibility of an institution is tested. The coverage of the Mumbai terror attack by the mainstream electronic media has done much harm to the argument that any regulatory mechanism for the media must only come from within.’

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