AS CONTROVERSY continues over restrictions on access of government accredited journalists in the finance and commerce ministries, 16 opposition parties have submitted a notice to Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, for a short duration discussion on media freedom.
Among the signatories of the notice is BJP MP Subramanian Swamy and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
The Opposition is pushing for the notice to be taken up next week as this week disruptions continued in the Upper House over political developments in Karnataka. The parties that have signed the notice so far include Congress, Trinamool Congress, RJD, SP, BSP, Aam Aadmi Party, CPI, PDP, CPM, DMK, Kerala Congress (Mani), and IUML. BJD, according to sources, has informally conveyed to the Opposition block that it is not keen to be part of any joint notice, at least during the current session.
Media freedom is the second of a series of issues the Opposition wants to discuss. Earlier, Rajya Sabha had similarly taken up a discussion on electoral reforms moved by Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien which all the other parties had signed. The initial decision had been to cooperate with the government on legislative business and also push for discussion on subjects chosen by various opposition parties, which is why out of the 27 sittings of the RS during the budget session, it was smooth sailing for the first 13 sittings. Exactly midway on the 14th day, disruptions have come back riding on the political developments in Karnataka.
“A decision has been taken that every week the opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha will jointly move for one short duration discussion and one calling attention motion. The first mover will vary but the entire block would sign the notice. Issues are being decided after discussions with all parties on a week to week basis. The notice has been given at a time when the restrictions on the entry of accredited journalists to the finance ministry has caused a lot of concern so obviously that will come up. Some members have already spoken about in during other discussions,” said an Opposition MP.
Congress MP Kapil Sibal had mentioned the matter in his speech during the Budget discussion.