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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Minister wanted Speaker-media stand-off continue

CM’s speech failed to reach people due to a politician’s ego

Early Times Report

JAMMU, Mar 5: Stand-off between Speaker of Legislative Assembly, Mohammad Akbar Lone, and mediapersons was sustained by a Minister who, ironically, had been roped in by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as a troubleshooter and tasked to resolve the crisis. Entire media last week turned restive over the Speaker’s remarks that Press was under his control and the journalists were bound to disclose their sources if objected to by a Minister or MLA. The crisis ended after four days of stand-off when Speaker invited media back to the Press Gallery and withdrew his observation.

Rather than arranging a liaison between the outraged mediapersons and the Presiding Officer of the Assembly, the troubleshooter rode his own horse of egoism and made it a point that there was neither a meeting between the two nor withdrawal of the controversial remarks. On day third of the confrontation, some good Samaritans of the government and legislature succeeded in mellowing down the tempers. They fixed a meeting between the journalists and the Speaker, mainly to ensure that there was no boycott of media to proceedings on the day of Chief Minister’s reply to Governor’s address. Absence of media in the gallery would obviously mean total blackout of CM’s speech.

At the eleventh hour, the troubleshooter sent Director of Information, Farooq Reenzu, to make it clear to the journalists on boycott that the Speaker was neither in a mood to meet them nor withdraw the comments they were objecting to. That added fuel to the fire. When one of CM’s key aides folded his hands before the Minister and explained to him that the Government was suffering “huge embarrassment” due to the media boycott and blackout of CM’s speech would damage the interests of the government, he shouted back” “Are you only the government? Are we not suffering due to these media trials?”

The Minister, visibly shaken over disclosure of his fortune raising from 1996 to 2012 in media, is said to have provoked at least two other Cabinet Ministers and built maximum possible pressure on legislature to see that the stand-off continued. Journalists, he believed, should be “taught a lesson” before they proceeded further in their campaign of reporting corruption, nepotism and favourtism of Ministers and bureaucrats.

When the blackout of proceedings continued due to the Minister’s egoism and despite its best efforts government managed to publish CM’s speech in just one newspaper, CM removed the troubleshooter from the process of conflict resolution. His aide conveyed necessary advice to all concerned that CM wanted the crisis resolved at any cost “within today”. Thereafter, a fresh link of communication was created between Legislature and Press Club, mediapersons were assured of resolution according to their demand and invited to the Press Gallery.

Notwithstanding the discomfiture of four Cabinet Ministers, including the failed troubleshooter, Speaker withdrew his remarks with the clarification that media, like all Ministers, MLAs and others, was under his control only within the walls and matters of legislature. With that, journalists called off their boycott and the editors even obliged the government with publication of CM’s speech in the next issues of their newspapers.


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