Union I&B Minister Venkaiah Naidu today dubbed "absurd and cheap criticism of government" the remarks made by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram that Modi government is exercising "control" over the owners of media.
Union I&B Minister Venkaiah Naidu today dubbed “absurd and cheap criticism of government” the remarks made by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram that Modi government is exercising “control” over the owners of media.
Venkaiah also dismissed the allegations that the government is stifling the freedom of expression. Chidambaram had on Saturday alleged that there was a “pervasive, systematic and infringed control” over the owners of media by the Narendra Modi government. “The words used by Chidambaram are astonishing. We are for freedom of press and expression. It is absurd, baseless and cheap criticism of the government,” Venkaiah told reporters here.
“Chidambaram says the control over media today is unparallelled. And this is coming out from the mouth of a person and a party which has imposed Emergency in the country and which has shamelessly imposed censorship on the media and which has put Opposition behind the bars,” the senior BJP leader said. He said the Congress has always believed in “pick and choose while encouraging those sections of media who toed their line and kept away those who were critical of the party and the government.” Venkaiah said it was Chidambaram who had proposed the defamation law to curb freedom of media and “he is now giving us sermons.”
“Media has widely reported uncharitable comments made by the Congress leaders against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. These include ‘Khoon ki dalai’ and so many. Media even reported who would succeed Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the event of his death,” the minister said. He accused the Congress of “stooping so low” to berate the PM. “…Every such remark was widely reported, but we ever acted against any media writing about them. “It is blatantly false and unfair to allege that the Modi government is stifling the freedom of expression. We believe in freedom of press and we believe in freedom of expression,” Venkaiah said.
He alleged that upholding the freedom of expression and civil rights guaranteed in the Constitution was never “in the DNA of the Congress.” “It (Congress) is a single family enterprise and such parties do not respect democracy,” Venkaiah said. He said that instead of raising “non-issues in the context of fast growing disconnect with the people,” the Congress and their friends need to introspect and reiterate their commitment to democratic way of functioning in a responsible manner. “This government welcomes dissent, disapproval and differences of opinions and perception. However, this should not be used as a means to flare up passions of anti-national sentiments, thereby creating an environment of false reality and indulging in manufactured dissent,” Venkaiah added.
Responding to a query on the opposition YSR Congress apprising the Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L Narasimhan about the defection of party MLAs to ruling TDP and their induction into state cabinet, Venkaiah said, “My opinion is that such legislators should first resign from all their posts and then join another party.” The YSR Congress has also demanded bringing in a legislation to stop defections of legislators.