Telecast of Lok Sabha proceedings was blacked out as the Telangana bill was discussed and cleared amid pandemonium on Tuesday. Television channels initially reported that the live feed may have been stopped on orders of Speaker Meira Kumar. Lok Sabha officials, however, said the disruption occurred due to a technical failure.
The blackout of the live telecast raised many eyebrows as there was intense curiosity about the proceedings on the bill that was being firmly opposed by a number of MPs from the Seemandhra region.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj hinted the coverage was stopped on purpose. “They say that the blackout of Lok Sabha was due to a ‘technical glitch’. No. It was a tactical glitch,” she tweeted.
“We strongly condemn the blackout of the proceedings of Lok Sabha. It was done without our knowledge… I am sorry to inform that Lok Sabha Sectt is not providing us the audio or video recording of my today's speech on Telangana bill (sic),” Swaraj posted on the microblogging website.
YSR Congress leader YS Jaganmohan Reddy also alleged that the live telecast "was cut off".
In a statement, the AAP said the government “had ensured telecast of the Jan Lokpal bill in the Delhi assembly, even as the Telangana bill was blocked. Is this justified?”
Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj tweeted that the lapse had happened because of a “tactical glitch” and not a “technical glitch”.
Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi voiced a similar protest. "Why is the government embarrassed? People have a right to see. They have a right to know," he said.
The live telecast on Lok Sabha TV channel abruptly went off the screen minutes after the House met at 3pm to discuss the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014.
A few minutes later, the channel briefly put out a message that live telecast would resume shortly but that did not happen. TV news channels later ran news of the proceedings on their tickers.
Lok Sabha secretary general S Bal Shekar said the proceedings of the afternoon session could not be telecast due to a glitch. "There was a technical problem. They are attending to it," Shekar said. “I have asked for a report on the issue,” he added.
Shekhar agreed that it was a coincidence that disruption in live telecast occurred when the House took up the discussion on the crucial bill.
Pushed to the backfoot, Congress leader S Jaipal Reddy said although live telecast could not be continued because of a technical error, the press gallery was full of journalists. “So everything happened in front of the media. There is no question of hiding anything,” he said.
Towards the close of the UPA-I tenure in 2008, then Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had instructed that unruly scenes notwithstanding, the LSTV must telecast the entire house proceedings.
During the cash-for-votes scam in 2008, the LSTV had telecast footage showing MPs holding wads of currency notes in the House.