The Congress party has slammed the Trinamool Congress-led governments decision to ban the display of some well-known newspapers in government-aided libraries by calling it undemocratic. In a strongly- worded letter sent to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday,the state Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya termed the move a blatant attempt to institutionalise a system of patronage at the cost of exchequer.
In an unprecedented move that invited criticism from all quarters,the state government issued the order listing down the names of some newspapers which will be offered to readers in government-aided libraries. Leading English and Bengali newspapers,which have been critical of the state government on certain issues,have been barred from such libraries. The state government,in a bid to justify the ban,had said the order was issued in the interest of the small newspapers and to promote free thinking among the readers.
Requesting the CM to withdraw the order,Bhattacharya wrote: In our constitutional and political setup,such partiality shown towards selected newspapers and the directives that no other newspapers can be kept in the libraries is shocking.
The move and the justification offered by the state government has been soundly and comprehensively criticised by all the sections of the civil society,media and political parties, Bhattacharya wrote and termed the governments decision as unprecedented.
The Congress,which is in alliance with the Trinamool and also a part of Mamatas cabinet,criticised the government for issuing an order to stop issuing advertisements to newspapers published from the districts. This would be detrimental to the growth of small but vital publications, he wrote and added: I can assure you that withdrawal of the orders would not lower the prestige of the government. Rather it will save the situation from furter deteriorating.
The Congress leader also took a dig at the chief minister for not taking adequate action against those who assaulted mediapersons in recent days. He termed the attack on mediapersons as attempts to muzzle the press. No arrests have been made in cases of attacks on journalists… the investigation is tardy and lax, Bhattacharya added.