Leaked Government Communication Report bares Modi Govt’s New Strategy to Clampdown media, Negative Influencers: Congress.
By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: Main opposition Congress on Thursday alleged that instead of providing relief to people during the time of the corona pandemic last year, the Modi government was planning to muzzle the voices critical of the government policies. Referring to the ‘Government Communication Report’, it said the government has by passed Parliament in making the new IT rules which is meant to neutralize people, who are writing against the Government.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate raised questions about the minutes of GoM meetings which have been leaked in the media.
“Government Communication report has revealed some very very disturbing facts. There were five Union Cabinet Ministers including Smt. Smriti Irani, Shri Prakash Javadekar, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Shri S Jaishankar and of course, four other Ministers of state, who were a part of this,” Shrinate said.
“It is absolutely certain that at the time of corona, when the entire world including all of us were standing rock solid with the Government and hoping that the Prime Minister is thinking about our lives, our livelihood, he was thinking about how to sort out this crisis, he was actually preparing to stab us in the back by first compromising the freedom of speech and expression in the country by first controlling free press,” she added.
Referring to the Report, she said it categorically mentions that there has to be a strategy to neutralize people, who are writing against the Government. It very categorically also seems to suggest that some of the suggestions made in this report have actually been turned into law.
She recalled that the IT rules 2021 announced a few days back by Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar, seem to have taken a lot of suggestions made by certain journalists on board and it does raise the questions.
“Will Parliament make laws or will laws be made by Ministers sitting in drawing rooms with consultations and under the guidance of pliant media persons ever willing to serve the Modi Government?” she said.
She also shares some quotes of the ministers from the leaked report.
Smriti Irani talks about “Tracking 50 negative influencers by the electronic media monitoring committee of the Ministry of I&B”.
Ravi Shankar Prasad says, “There needs to be a pool of spin doctors, who must give a spin to every Government story.”
Swapan Dasgupta talks about “giving that little bit extra to journalists in a calibrated manner.”
Surya Prakash, now head of Prasar Bharati says that “the Government has enormous power to utilize its position and control them.”
Gurumurthy talks about the Pokhran like effect.
They talk about “colour coding, green for fence sitters, black for people who are against you, white for those who support you.”
On Pokhran Effect , the Congress leader said she doesn’t know what that is?
“ Is this a figment of the Government’s imagination that keeps coming from time to time, where Pakistan becomes active, where a demonetization happens, but, seems to be something like the Pokhran effect that they talk about,” she asked.
She said they simply want to clamp down those who dare to question the government policies and actions.
“This happened with independent journalists, whether it was in UP, where a journalist had to be jailed for reporting on salt and roti being served in Mirzapur; whether it was a sedition charge labeled against a journalist, who showed some truth and hard facts about Prime Minister’s constituency of Varanasi and Musahars there; whether it was Deoria, where a minor girl was being made to mop the floor during Corona”.
She also questioned those journalists whose names are doing the rounds: “It looks like some from the press/media became party to this, I sympathise with them. Don’t know if it happened, because they were caught unaware? I don’t know if it happened with their consent. But, I think it is important that they come out and make their positions clear, because this does raise questions on the commitment to being a part of the media. And media is just not another job, media is for a reason called the fourth pillar of our democracy.”
She alleged that the purpose of this group of Ministers who prepared the report was to weaken the constitutional democracy.
“What the world is now saying about us is actually coming true. We were slipping constantly in freedom of press index, we are now vehemently slipping, and we are apparently in a partially free 5 category”.
73 years after independence my head hangs in shame that we are in that category and shame on this Government for landing us there, she added.
Taking a dig at ministers (Prasad and Javedekar) Congress leader Shrinate said “they need the spin because “Hum Do, Humare Do”, ki jo apki sarkar hai, you need a spin to change the narrative there, but, no matter how much you curb free speech, this country will not let you do that”.