New Delhi: Defence Minister and senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh on Sunday said those alleging violation of press freedom forget that the governments of his party had “never imposed any ban” on any media organisation, “nor curtailed” anyone’s right to free speech. The Congress government had amended the Constitution to curb free speech, he said referring to the amendment of Article 19 in 1951. Speaking at a conclave organised by RSS-linked weekly “Panchjanya”, Mr Singh said a debate has again started in the country regarding freedom of expression.
“The interesting thing is that those who allege a violation of media freedom today forget that whether it is Atalji’s (former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) government or (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji’s government, they never imposed any ban on any media house, nor curtailed anyone’s right to free speech and expression in any manner,” he added.
Hitting out at Congress, the minister said the entire history of the grand old party is “replete with incidents of violation of all kinds of freedoms”. “The Congress government had even amended the Constitution to curb free speech. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others,” he said.
Mr Singh also underlined that the media is the fourth pillar of democracy and its freedom is “very important for a strong and vibrant democracy”.
Talking about the bans and restrictions imposed on “Panchjanya” in the past, the Defence Minister said the repeated crackdown on the weekly associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was not only an “attack on nationalistic journalism, but also a complete violation of freedom of expression”.
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