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Parrikar faces flak over move to restrict media

Panaji, May 12 (IANS)
Published on 13 May. 2017 12:29 AM IST
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The Congress in Goa on Friday accused the Manohar Parrikar-led state government of trying to use “draconian rules” to deny journalists access to the state Secretariat.
Far from its motto of “zero tolerance to corruption”, the BJP-led coalition government was apparently gearing towards “zero tolerance to transparency”, said All India Congress Committee (AICC) Secretary Girish Chodankar in a press conference here.
“If his claim of being a clean Chief Minister is true and he has nothing to hide, then why is he so paranoid about the media? In fact, this move is aimed at sending signals to police and bureaucracy to keep away from the media,” Chodankar said.
The Congress leader’s comments came soon after the Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ), an apex welfare body of media persons in the state, on Friday demanded that the Chief Minister drop his plans of restricting media access to the Secretariat and holding selective media briefings. “Sir, over the last few days, many journalists have expressed their concern with us about your government’s move. We as GUJ are also completely against such a plan, because it will create hurdles in our duty. No government in the past has attempted to put restrictions,” the Union’s President Sadguru Patil said in a letter to Parrikar earlier in the day. Parrikar had informed a section of the journalist fraternity on Thursday that he was planning to bar journalists from entering the state Secretariat on Wednesdays -- a day when Cabinet meetings are mostly held -- and regulate media access to the Secretariat by allowing their entry by appointment only.
Nearly a month ago, Parrikar had also discussed the plan to restrict entry of media persons to the state Secretariat with some members of the journalist union.
Chodankar said Parrikar, who is heading an alliance government with a wafer-thin majority, was now trying to “hide acts of commission and omission of his government by trying to put restrictions on the media by denying them access to the state Secretariat”.
“It is the duty of the media to expose wrong-doings in the government and nowhere in the country are such restrictions imposed on the press,” Chodankar said.
Sources close to Parrikar, however, said media access to the Secretariat was being regulated in view of the disruption caused by camera-wielding media persons walking in and out of important government offices.
“It is disturbing when media persons walk around the Secretariat with live cameras. These are sensitive offices where critical business of the government is conducted,” a source close to the Chief Minister said.

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