Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday alleged that the Congress party’s promise of curbing monopolies in media and ending cross-ownership of media segments is "anachronic" and aimed at restricting free journalism.
In its election manifesto, the Congress had promised to pass a law to curb monopolies in the media, cross-ownership of different segments and control of the media by other business organisations.
If it comes to power, the party also said it would enact a legislation to preserve the freedom of the internet and prevent its arbitrary and frequent shutdowns.
"The media chapter (of the Congress' manifesto) contains suggestions each one of which will regulate and restrict free journalism and otherwise multiplicity of Indian media. It is anachronic.
"It is not in tune with the times. However, even while drafting this chapter, a new facility is sought to be provided to the terrorists and the insurgents," Jaitley said in a blog titled ‘Congress Manifesto 2019 – A Freedom to Destroy Institutions and Help Terrorists’.
On the proposal regarding the internet, Jaitley said the internet is shut down when operations against terrorism and insurgency are in progress.
"They have to be exercised instantaneously. Restricting such power during anti-insurgency operations or where caste or communal violence is on, will hinder national interest. In some situations of either insurgent violence or massive social tensions, frenzies can be created on the social media. The mischief makers want to achieve that," he said.
Jaitley said the Congress wants the power of the security forces in this regard to be regulated.
He also argued that with the advent of satellite communication, every citizen in India has access to hundreds of channels, newspapers and digital media.
"Cross holding concept is an obsolete idea in India. There is no 'real and imminent' danger of a monopoly," said Jaitley, who is heading BJP's publicity division for the general elections.
Recalling the Emergency days, he said it must be borne in mind that the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had revoked the Press Council Act and abolished the Press Council by an ordinance.