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Thursday, May 17, 2012

MPs say media giving "undue" coverage to disruptions in parliament

India is increasingly becoming a "democracy of sound bytes" because of "undue" coverage given by the media to disruptions in Parliament and not to serious debates.This was the general sense expressed by politicians across the board who nudged the media -- both electronic and print -- to cover less the noise in Parliament and give more weightage and coverage to serious issues that are raised in the House.Politicians Arun Jaitley (BJP) and Mani Shankar Aiyar (Congress) spoke in a similar vein at a function to release a book - 'Straight Thoughts' - penned by Lokmat Media Chairman Vijay Darda when they rejected suggestions that politicians were "intolerant" in the wake of the Ambedkar cartoon controversy.

At a panel discussion moderated by senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, Jaitley and Aiyar said politicians are "more accountable" to people and to the media more than anyone in the society and they laugh at cartoons of themselves but oppose only when there is some sensitivity involved. When the MPs disrupt the house and go out, the media wait for their bytes and make it the news of the day. "If I make a decent speech, there is not a hope in hell that you will get two words in," was how Aiyar summed up his views. CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury was more vocal and lent support to Aiyar's views that India was increasingly becoming a "sound byte democracy."

He wanted to know how many newspapers and television channels properly had covered the impeachment process against Justice Soumitra Sen of Calcutta High Court. "This (India) is moving towards becoming a democracy of bytes. There are serious discussions which take place. For the first time, there was an impeachment of a judge. We were exercising the soverign right of the country through Parliament. But it won't get covered," he said. Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said the country has achieved whatever it could because of the political leadership and added, in an apparent reference to anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare and his team, the "Jantar Mantar" demonstrations are "dangerous" for democrarcy.(DNA)


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