When the people were kept out of the House

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on February 18, 2014

Darkness at noon as Lok Sabha TV goes off air during debate on Telangana Bill

Blackout or technical glitch? A raging controversy broke out over the absence of a live telecast of the Lok Sabha proceedings during the debate on the Telangana Bill.

A blank screen greeted viewers for a good 90 minutes during the clause by clause consideration of the Bill before its passage.

Politicians across parties and social media users were quick to condemn what they described as a blackout of Lok Sabha TV, ordered at the behest of the Speaker.

But Minister of State, PMO, V Narayansamy, was circumspect, saying: “It was the Speaker’s decision, so we cannot comment.”

Technical hitch blamed

Later, the Lok Sabha Secretariat issued a statement saying: “The proceedings of the Lok Sabha could not be telecast live by Lok Sabha Television due to technical problems when the House assembled at 15-00 hrs on February 18, 2014. The CEO, LSTV, is probing it.”

It is unfortunate that people were unable to watch the live telecast of the passage of this Bill which was done democratically, the statement added.

“The press was present in full strength in the Press Gallery at all times to witness and report how the events unfolded. All the proceedings are on record and in the public domain,” it added.

However, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, in a series of tweets, said: “We strongly condemn the blackout of the proceedings of the Lok Sabha. It was done without our knowledge.

“I am sorry to inform that the Lok Sabha Secretariat is not providing us the audio or video recording of my speech on Telangana Bill. I will raise this matter with the Speaker tomorrow.

“They say that the blackout of Lok Sabha was due to a technical glitch. No. It was a tactical glitch.”

Public ire

Tweets from the public expressed anguish. While some likened it to the era of the Emergency others said it was a shameful chapter in Parliament’s history.

Basudeb Acharia, senior CPI (M) leader and an MP for more than three decades, said there has never been a blackout in the past. “This is unfortunate and unethical. People have the right to know what is happening inside the House. A lot of things have happened within the House in the past. But the telecast was never stopped.”

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Published on February 18, 2014
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