The Sansad TV camera focussed on the Lok Sabha speaker for nearly half the time Congress MP Rahul Gandhi spoke in Parliament on Wednesday. But Union minister Smriti Irani remained in focus for most of her speech.
This came a day after opposition MPs objected to tomtomming the government’s achievements while Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi spoke in the Lok Sabha. In March, during the budget session, the proceedings and the Sansad TV camera kept its focus on the Speaker and non-protesting MPs for nearly 19 minutes amid sloganeering between the opposition and treasury benches over the Hindenberg-Adani controversy.
The opposition has repeatedly alleged that muting of microphones has become a constant feature of parliamentary proceedings over the last few years. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, had reportedly to Speaker Om Birla earlier this year alleging that his microphone had been muted for three days.
Meanwhile, in his first speech in the Lok Sabha after reinstatement of his membership on Wednesday, Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi spoke for 37 minutes. However, he was on screen on Sansad TV for only around 15 minutes, Newslaundry found.
For nearly all of the remaining duration, the camera moved on to Speaker Om Birla amid ruckus. BJP MP Kiren Rijiju was seen standing up and interrupting Rahul Gandhi for around two minutes. He said he wanted to ask what the Congress did in the northeast.
Gandhi, meanwhile, spoke on Bharat Jodo Yatra and the situation in Manipur. “In my last speech in the House, I spoke about Adani. I might have hurt many people. So I apologise…today I want to tell my friends in the BJP that there is no reason to be scared today as my main speech will not be around Adani. Yes, I will obviously throw some brickbats.”
On the Sansad TV camera moving away from the Congress MP, party leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted the time codes to ask what Prime Minister Narendra Modi was afraid of.
In sharp contrast to Rahul Gandhi’s speech, his Amethi nemesis and Union minister Smriti Irani spoke for 53 minutes and 30 seconds, including the 65 seconds the Speaker told her to stop her speech amid sloganeering. However, unlike Gandhi’s speech, the Sansad TV camera remained on the minister for 50 minutes and 8 seconds, moving on to Speaker Birla for just around two minutes, with very few flashes of the House and its members.
On Monday, over 20 minutes into Gogoi speech, in which he posed three questions for PM Modi over the perceived inaction on Manipur, the Sansad TV began listing the government schemes or sectors which have seen success.
The ticker read: “India comes second in ayurvedic and herbal medicine exports; second in export of alternative medicine; India now has the second largest road network in the world, after the USA; 400 Vande Bharat trains to be manufactured; PMGKAY becomes largest food security initiative by feeding over 80 crore citizens since March 2020; India is the second largest fish producing country; Jal Jeevan mission is world’s biggest drinking water supply programme.”
These claims scrolled on the ticker until 12:58 pm. They were taken down after the opposition raised an objection, and amid sloganeering, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged that it was a “planned move”. He said: “The government thought Rahul Gandhi would move the motion of no confidence. This is why they scheduled such a ticker. It was only to belittle him. Gaurav Gogoi’s speech was googly for them.”
While Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla dismissed the allegations, he took cognisance of the complaint about the ticker displaying the government achievements. “The Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV recently merged to become the Sansad TV... Since you have brought the matter to my notice, I will look into it... I have asked the relevant team… it will be stopped in a few moments,” Birla said amid the opposition’s sloganeering. “I don’t have the button to stop the ticker.”
However, parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said the opposition “should not be so insecure” and that such tickers usually run on the Sansad TV during parliamentary proceedings. “Their speech is telecast live. Why are they so scared? The opposition should not have such insecurities.”
Newslaundry had earlier reported on the upheaval in operations of Sansad TV and how vice-president presided over meetings concerning the content of the channel, layoffs and appraisals.