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Goa Congress condemns restrictions on media

IANS | Panaji |

The Congress state unit on Tuesday condemned Goa’s BJP-led government’s decision to ban journalists at the State Secretariat on Wednesdays when weekly Cabinet meetings are held.

“I condemn the government’s decision to ban journalists from the Secretariat on days the Cabinet meeting is held. You (media) all are not hiding anything, you are not stealing anything. Then what is the need to debar the media? It means the government is trying to con people and therefore trying to restrain the media,” All India Congress Committee Secretary Girish Chodankar told reporters here.

He also condemned the Rs 100 crore defamation suit filed by Jay Shah, son of Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah, against news website TheWire.in, which published a report on a company owned by Jay Shah.

Chodankar said the defamation suit amounted to “intimidation” of the media which, he alleged, was the BJP’s national policy.

“If you are claiming zero tolerance to corruption, then lift the ban on the media. Open your doors to the media. Welcome the media with a red carpet, if you have nothing to hide. The BJP’s national policy is to harass the media,” the Congress leader said.

The informal decision to bar the media from the Secretariat on a particular day was taken several years ago during Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s earlier term, after a verbal spat between Ministers during a Cabinet meeting was reported by the media who were waiting outside the meeting venue.

After Laxmikant Parsekar took over as Chief Minister, the ban was relaxed, only to be put into effect again after the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government retained power in 2017.

The media are allowed in only after the culmination of the Cabinet briefing.