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Lok Sabha Polls 2024 | DD & AIR censor Yechury, Devarajan's speeches; phrases 'authoritarian regime', 'Muslims' dropped: Report

Yechury protested the move, writing in a letter to Director General, DD, 'The censorship applied to the text of my address on Doordarshan (same text given to All India Radio) is a patent denial of the right to dissent in a democracy'.
Last Updated : 17 May 2024, 11:31 IST
Last Updated : 17 May 2024, 11:31 IST

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Public broadcasters All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan (DD) censored political speeches aired on their platforms by Opposition leaders, with CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury being asked to drop the phrases “communal, authoritarian regime” and “draconian laws”, and All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) leader G Devarajan told to drop a reference to “Muslims”, The Indian Express reported on Friday.

According to a directive issued by the Election Commission prior to the conduct of the polls, "only six National Parties and 59 State Parties which are at present recognized as such National or State Parties, under the provision of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968" are eligible for the telecast and broadcast facility.

An official in Prasar Bharati defended the censor order, telling the publication that both AIR and DD are mandated to follow “conduct rules” laid down by the EC. “But it happens with most leaders. There were instances in which even the chief ministers’ texts were corrected,” the report quoted the official as saying.

A perplexed Yechury told the publication, “Strangely, they did not find anything wrong in the Hindi version of my address which was just a translation of the original English one. But the English version was modified according to their suggestion under protest.”

“I had a line referring to the discriminatory clauses in the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in my address. They told me the word 'Muslim' has to be removed. I argued I need to use the word to emphasise the point that it is discriminatory to Muslims as the law mentions every other minority community eligible for citizenship. But I was not allowed,” the report also quoted Devarajan as saying.

The report also notes that Yechury protested the censoring, writing in a letter to Director General, Doordarshan, “The censorship applied to the text of my address on Doordarshan (same text given to All India Radio) is a patent denial of the right to dissent in a democracy. Terms like ‘communal authoritarian regime’ and ‘draconian laws’ have been directed to be deleted from the text.”

The scheme on free air time was initially brought out in January 1998 and is aimed at ensuring equitable access to government-owned electronic media during elections for campaigning.

Under the scheme, an equitable base time is allotted to each recognised national party and recognised state party uniformly on All India Radio and Doordarshan. Additional time is allotted to the parties on the basis of their poll performance in the last assembly election from the respective states or in the last Lok Sabha polls, as the case may be.

The actual date and time during which the telecasts or broadcasts will be made by the authorised representatives of any party is predetermined by a draw of lot.

(With PTI inputs)

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Published 17 May 2024, 11:31 IST

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