Regular-article-logo Monday, 05 June 2023

Government using ads to stifle media: Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir

Adhir called the Narendra Modi government 'undemocratic and megalomaniac'

TT Bureau New Delhi Published 27.06.19, 02:25 AM
Adhir outside Parliament on Wednesday

Adhir outside Parliament on Wednesday (PTI)

Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Chowdhury on Wednesday accused the Centre of “throttling the media” by stopping advertisements to media houses that questioned the government, but the Speaker did not let him complete his speech.

Raising the subject during Zero Hour, Adhir alleged that despite the claim of transparency through digitisation, the information and broadcasting ministry’s directorate of advertising and visual publicity was selective in releasing government ads to the media.


He alleged that the flow of government ads to certain media houses was stopped after they published news uncomplimentary to the Centre. He termed this a violation of the “freedom of expression” and an effort to force the media to toe the government’s line.

Adhir called the Narendra Modi government “undemocratic and megalomaniac” and went on to name some newspapers to which, he said, central government advertisements had been stopped.

“The Rafale deal was engulfed in controversies, favouritism and corruption. The Hindu newspaper exposed it. The Times of India exposed the violation of the model code of conduct by the Prime Minister; The Telegraph and ABP were critical of the Prime Minister,” he said.

BJP members protested and the Speaker got Adhir’s mike switched off, presumably because the MP had gone beyond the approved part of the text. Members wishing to raise matters during Zero Hour have to submit the text in advance to the Speaker, and are allowed to air only the part the Chair approves.

Adhir and other Congress members protested when the Speaker cut him off and moved on to the next member in the queue.

By then, Adhir had got part of his point on record. “The media is being throttled. Advertisements are being stopped. Their fault is that they raised their voice against the government,” he said in Hindi. “Is it a crime to raise one’s voice against the government?”

He added: “This is a democratic country. The freedom of expression and freedom of the press are so important that everybody must stand up to protect these basic rights.”

Disability tax

The Congress on Wednesday opposed the proposal to tax the disability pension given to military personnel, accusing the BJP, which styles itself a defender of the armed forces’ dignity, of hypocrisy.

“(The) finance ministry in a CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) circular on June 24, 2019, has decided to tax armed forces personnel who get ‘disability pension’ on ‘account of injuries suffered in the course of service’ at the time of their superannuation or premature retirement, as the case may be,” party communications chief Randeep Surjewala said in a statement.

“This Tughlaqi firman (whimsical diktat) seeks to rub salt (into) the wounds of our brave soldiers. The BJP is a habitual offender in insulting the armed forces by ‘back door’ cuts in spending.”

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