Chandrababu Naidu criticises Andhra govt for defamation cases, gag on media

Telugu Desam Party president and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday strongly condemned the decision of the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy cabinet to gag the media by filing defamation cases against them for carrying negative stories about the government.

Speaking to the media in Guntur, the TDP president recalled that Jagan’s father and former chief minister of combined Andhra Pradesh late Y S Rajasekhar Reddy also brought in a similar order in 2007 curtailing the freedom of the press and intimidating media houses for writing negative stories against his government.

“But YSR had withdrawn the order following large scale protests from the media, editors and political parties. He displayed timely wisdom in revoking such a draconian order,” he said.

Naidu alleged that Jagan had revived the dormant government order and given it more teeth by empowering departmental secretaries to file defamation cases against the media for publishing negative stories.

“He should remember that such an order would have serious repercussions. He should not target the media just because they question his wrong decisions,” he said.

YSR Congress party rebutted Naidu’s allegations against the Andhra government on the alleged media gag order. YSRC secretary and former MP C Ramachandraiah said a section of the media was biased towards the TDP president and was defaming the four-month old Andhra government by writing such reports.

He alleged that a section of “yellow journalists” had never written anything when the previous Naidu government indulged in blatant human rights’ violation by killing 18 labourers in the name of red sanders smugglers. “A false campaign is being run to malign the Jagan Mohan Reddy government,” he said.

Information and Public Relations minister Perni Nani said the government would definitely take legal action against the media for writing baseless stories.

“The cabinet decision did not bring in any draconian law but only made some modifications in the earlier order. The power of filing defamation cases against the media were shifted from the Commissioner of I&PR to departmental secretaries who have better knowledge of the issues. Moreover, filing of defamation cases is only the last resort after failing to get the clarifications published in the media,” Nani said.

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