Bengaluru: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today accused the Narendra Modi government of muzzling the media by not allowing journalists to write what they want to express. Speaking at the launch of commemorative publication of Congress mouth piece National Herald here, he said thousands of journalists in the country were not being allowed to write what they want. ‘I meet them and they tell me that they are being silenced’. He said during his visit to Golden Temple two days ago he learnt the powerful concept of Sikhism — ‘Peeri’ and ‘Meeri’. While Peeri means ‘the power of truth’, Meeri means the ‘truth of power’. ‘This is what is happening in India now. There is a dis-balance between these two forces. The power of truth is being completely replaced by the truth of power. Anybody who attempts to say the truth, who want to stand for the truth are being pushed aside,’ he stated. Mr Gandhi said the Dalits were being beaten up, minorities were frightened, while journalists and bearucrats are being threatened. He said during his visit to Madhya Pradesh a couple of days ago a policeman had told him that he had been forced to do something that he doesnt want to do. ‘I asked him why I was not allowed as I am citizen of India and I am allowed to come to Madhya Pradesh. On what basis you are stopping me. Is there a law to do this. For this he said there is no such law but he had been told to stop him,’ he said. He said that was basically what is being done in the country. When he went to Uttar Pradesh last week same thing happened and he was stopped at the border. ‘This is the India we are living in. The country where power is simply used to ‘manufacture’ truth and everybody knows what the truth is, but people are scared to say. Quoting a Soviet poet, he said when truth is being silenced, then the truth becomes a lie. This is what the government is trying to do. It is forcing everything into silence, he alleged. Mr Gandhi said the National Herald had a strong spirit that it will not going to be silenced. ‘The Editor came to me some time back, I told him when he wants to say something against the congress party its ideas or me, I will be absolutely comfortable and want him to say it without any fear. ‘That is the spirit we expect from National Herald. Speak the truth and do not be silenced or be scared.’ The Congress party today launched the refurbished website of National Herald, which had stopped the publication a few years ago, as the party preferred Bengaluru as it is the IT Capital of the country. The publication would also go into print shortly. While Vice President Hamid Ansari delivered the keynote address, Karnataka Governor Vajubhai R Vala, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, KPCC President G Parameshwara, National Herald Director Oscar Fernandes and Congress leader Gulam Nabi Azad also attended the function.
In his keynote address, Mr Ansari said the Press had emerged as a tool for national awakening. It became a medium of nationalist political participation for the masses. The Press was a medium for propagation of modern ideas of democracy, freedom and equality. He said the English Press emerged as a medium of communication between nationalists across the country and played a role in welding India into a single nation and in giving the Indians a sense of national identity. This was crucial in mobilising the masses for various nationalist and social causes. ‘Mahatma Gandhi was associated with six journals. ‘Young India’ and ‘Harijan’ became powerful vehicles of his views on all subjects. For Gandhiji, journalism was a public service, he said. ‘In my humble opinion, it is wrong to use a newspaper as a means of earning a living. When a newspaper is treated as a means of making profits, the result is likely to be serious malpractices. ‘It is not necessary to prove to those who have some experience of journalism that such malpractices do prevail on a large scale,’ he said.” He expressed his happiness over National Herald resuming its publication in both print and digital formats. ‘I am sure that it will uphold the standards of journalism that Jawaharlal Nehru enshrined in his newspaper’. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the struggle for country’s Independence, journalism played a highly impactful role, so much so that it was synonymous with Nationalism, Patriotism and Secularism. He said National Herald had always championed the cause of the Freedom of Press and was considered as the ‘Voice of India’, during the fight for Independence. ‘No wonder, it was banned between 1942 and 1945 following, the gag on the Indian Press after the Quit India Resolution,’ he added.