In an unprecedented and curious development, Lok Sabha TV Tuesday went blank for the entire 90 minutes when the controversial Telangana Bill was being passed in the House, evoking sharp reactions from opposition parties which termed it as subversion of democratic norms.
Live coverage of the proceedings on Lok Sabha TV came to a sudden halt at around 3 PM as soon as Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde started speaking on the bill while moving it for consideration.
‘House Adjourned’, was the message displayed on Lok Sabha TV which broadcasts the live coverage of all the proceedings of the House. However, this was not the case as the proceedings were going on inside the House.
Some time later, the display changed to ‘Live from Lok Sabha shortly’. But the coverage never resumed and in the meanwhile the Bill was passed and the House was adjourned after 90 minutes of proceedings.
Lok Sabha Secretariat said the telecast stopped due to “technical reasons” and regretted that. It said a probe has been initiated into it.
The argument, however, did not cut ice with the opposition parties, which slammed the “black out” of the proceedings.
Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, who spoke on the bill without any telecast, said, “We strongly condemn the black out of the proceedings of Lok Sabha. It was done without our knowledge.”
Terming it as a “tactical” rather than “technical” act, she said she will raise the matter with the Speaker tomorrow.
“I am sorry to inform that Lok Sabha Sectt is not providing us the audio or video recording of my today’s speech on Telangana Bill,” Swaraj tweeted.
Slamming the stoppage of live coverage, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said it amounted to passage of the bill behind closed doors.
Her party colleague Derek O’Brien, a Rajya Sabha member, tweeted, “In RS retiring members are giving their farewell speeches…in LS we just bid farewell to democratic norms”.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned whether the government was so scared as to stop live coverage. He said it amounted to killing the democratic norms.
Former Apple executive and Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri has also been included in the spokespersons’ list.