The Mamata Banerjee government has issued a circular to all state government and government-aided libraries listing the newspapers that they should be offering to readers. Neither do the main Bengali dailies of the state nor any English newspapers feature in the list.
Signed by Special Secretary,Library Services and Mass Education,Rampada Biswas,the circular says: No government fund will be spent for purchase of newspapers/dailies published or purported to be published by any political party as a measure to develop free thinking among the masses.
The newspapers that fit the Mamata governments criteria include recently launched newspapers,many of them with low circulation,who are not critical of the government or openly support it. Four editors of these papers have been elected to the Rajya Sabha on Trinamool Congress ticket.
Officials of the Library Services Department admitted that this is the first instance of such a circular.
The managing boards of libraries have so far been the final authority on deciding which newspapers and periodicals to offer.
The circular is applicable to all 2,460 libraries aided by the government,the 12 fully owned by it and the seven categorised as government-sponsored.
The newspapers that pass the test include Sambad Pratidin,Sakalbela,Dainik Statesman,Ekdin,Khabar 365 Din all Bengali papers Hindi newspaper Sanmarg and Urdu newspapers Akbar-e-Mashriquei and Azad Hind. Two of Sambad Pratidins editors,Sanmarg editor Vivek Gupta and Akbar-e-Mashriquies Nadimul Haque are now in the Rajya Sabha.