Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday fired a fresh salvo at the Congress’ “dangerous” manifesto, asserting that it is liberal towards terrorists and insurgents and “demolishes” the current structure of independent media in the country.
“The manifesto is liberal towards terrorists, criminals, and insurgents. But it demolishes otherwise the current structure of independent media in India. India has the privilege of having a multiplicity of print, television, radio and now the digital media,” Jaitley wrote on his Facebook post.
“As a political activist, I hold the view that if some media organisations are opposed to my party’s viewpoint, they may constitute a miniscule share in the ocean of media news available. This applies to every other party,” he added.
Jaitley said that the media chapter on suggestions which will regulate free journalism and multiplicity of India media is “anachronic” and is aimed towards terrorists and insurgents.
“The dangerous chapter in the media paragraphs is contained in Para 33(5). It promises a law to maintain the freedom of Internet and not arbitrarily shut it down. The media chapter contains suggestions each one of which will regulate and restrict free journalism and otherwise multiplicity of Indian media. It is anachronic. It is not in tune with the times. However, even while drafting this chapter, a new facility is sought to be provided to the terrorists and the insurgents,” he wrote.
“This power is generally exercised only when operations against terrorism and insurgency are in progress. They have to be exercised instantaneously. Restricting such power during anti-insurgency operations or where caste or communal violence is on, will hinder national interest,” Jaitley said.
“In some situations of either insurgent violence or massive social tensions, frenzies can be created on the social media. The mischief makers want to achieve that. The Congress party wants the power of the security forces in this regard to be regulated,” he said.
Accusing the Congress of changing its stance on defamation, Jaitley further said, “It may be mentioned that the gentleman who drafted the manifesto is the same who had drafted the ill-fated Defamation Bill, 1988. That Bill provided for enhanced punishment for defamation, which was up to two years for the first offence and five years for subsequent offences. Today, while in Opposition, he wants to decriminalise defamation.”
Continuing his tirade against the Congress over its media freedom promises, the Union Minister further stated: “The more dangerous provision is contained in paragraphs 33(4) and 33(5) of the manifesto. The first promises legislation to curb monopolies and the other to bar cross-media holdings of the different segments of the media. The ownership of media by a group doing other business is sought to be restricted.”
“This is also the culmination of both the anti-media and the
‘large is evil’ conventional ideology of the Congress. A convergence of both left and dictatorial attitudes,” he added.