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70 Years of Freedom Not Enough to Let Chief Ministers Talk About Country

On India’s 70th Independence Day, the country’s official Public Service Broadcaster refused to air the customary address by the Chief Minister of Tripura, Manik Sarkar.
Manik Sarkar

Newsclick Image by Nitesh Kumar

On India’s 70th Independence Day, the country’s official Public Service Broadcaster refused to air the customary address by the Chief Minister of Tripura, Manik Sarkar — because the “content” of his speech was deemed unsuitable for “the sanctity and solemnity” of the occasion.

Both Doordarshan (DD) Television Network and the All India Radio (AIR), run by the ‘autonomous’ Prasar Bharti, did not broadcast the pre-recorded speech. Instead, they informed the CM’s office that Prasar Bharti would be be “more than happy” to air the speech if Sarkar agreed to “reshape the content making it suitable to the solemnity of the occasion and sentiments of the people of India at large.”


In the speech, Sarkar — who’s been heading the Left Front government in the state since 1998, and who is a Polit Bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) — minced no words about the troubling state of affairs in the country.


Holding the ruling NDA government and its anti-people policies squarely responsible, Sarkar talked about the recent spate of attacks on Minority and Dalit communities as well as about the rising unemployment and economic disparity among people.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) strongly condemned this act of censoring the Independence Day speech of a democratically elected Chief Minister.

This is a gross infringement on the right of a Chief Minister to address the people of his state on Independence Day. This act is reminiscent of the Emergency days and goes beyond as it seeks to gag the elected Chief Minister of a state,” the CPI (M) said in a press statement.

The Central Government is trampling upon the autonomy of Doordarshan/AIR and Prasar Bharati by such acts of censorship.”

Sarkar, who has been tagged as India’s poorest Chief Minister, had talked about how India’s spirit of secularism was under severe attack.

The followers of those who were not associated with the Independence movement, rather sabotaged the freedom movement, were servile to the atrocious, plunderer and merciless British, aligned with the anti-national forces having decorated themselves today in different names and colours are striking at the root of unity and integrity of India,” he said.

Sarkar also emphasised that it was impossible to solve the national problems of joblessness and poverty “without reversing the national economic policies which work to strengthen the very small group of profiteering corporates.”

He said despite its limitations, the Tripura Government had been pursuing policies for the welfare of people, charting an alternative path.

He ended by calling upon the people of Tripura: “...on this Independence Day, all the right thinking, peace loving and development seeking people of Tripura need to take a determined pledge to come forward and to work unitedly against such disruptive forces.”

Sitaram Yechury in a press conference today, condemned the action of the Prasar Bharti. The video can be seen here:

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