Rajnath Singh, the defence minister and a prominent member of the BJP, claimed on Sunday that those who claim press freedom has been violated forget that governments of his party "never imposed any ban" on any media outlets and "nor curtailed" anyone's right to free speech. He referred to the 1951 amendment of Article 19 as evidence that the Congress government had altered the Constitution to restrict free speech.
Speaking at a conference held by the RSS-affiliated publication "Panchjanya," Singh claimed that the country's debate over free speech has reopened.
"The interesting thing is that those who allege a violation of media freedom today forget that whether it is Atalji's (former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) government or (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji's government, they never imposed any ban on any media house, nor curtailed anyone's right to free speech and expression in any manner," Singh added.
The minister attacked Congress, claiming that the grand old party's entire history is "replete with incidents of violation of all kinds of freedoms."
"The Congress government had even amended the Constitution to curb free speech. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others," he said.
The Defence Minister discussed the past restrictions and bans placed on "Panchjanya," saying that the repeated actions against the weekly affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were not only an "attack on nationalistic journalism but also a complete violation of freedom of expression."
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