Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram on Sunday said not only Dalits and minorities but the media too was living in fear and pressure under the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Central government.
“Dalits are living in fear, minorities are living in fear, students and universities are in fear. Media is also in fear,” Chidambaram said at a function in Mumbai.
He observed that the media had become very “stingy” while covering parties other than the BJP.
The veteran Congress leader, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra, is campaigning for the high-stake BMC elections slated for February 21.
Coming down heavily on the fourth pillar of democracy, he said, “Most channels today are cheerleaders and most newspapers today are mute. It is a sad state of affairs in a democracy.”
Chidambaram, however, praised regional media for being more independent than the national media.
Stating that it was well known that several “direct and indirect pressures” were being exerted on media, he cited an example of a news channel whose senior anchor had interviewed him, but it was taken off air at the last moment.
Chidambaram said neither he nor the journalist knew why the interview was not telecast.
“Clearly, the message is that behave yourself. If there is too much criticism, the government is watching you. I sincerely hope that the media will shake off its fear. Media constantly preaches that in a vibrant democracy people must speak their mind but first media must speak out its mind,” he added.