KATHMANDU, May 23: The Nepali Congress (NC) has demanded that the government stall the Media Council Bill until the anti-press provisions of the bill are removed.
Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, NC Chief Whip Pushpa Bhusal accused the government of trying to control independent media and terrorize journalists through the bill. The government wants to silence critical voices and has tried to introduce a system where press is under government’s thumb,” Bhusal said.
Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara drew the attention of the government about NC’s concern in the House. “I believe the government is aware of the gravity of the issue as ministers are also present here,” Mahara said after Bhusal’s address in parliament.
NC has stood by journalists, civil society and stakeholders in criticizing the Media Council Bill registered by the government in the National Assembly and demanded the bill’s withdrawal.
As the controversial bill has drawn widespread criticism since its registration in the National Assembly secretariat two weeks ago, the government has not tabled the bill in the upper house.
“This bill has exposed the government ill-intention,” NC’s Bhusal said. “We have realized that the two-thirds majority government has developed a hunger for power.”
NC whip Bhusal also criticized the government of going back on its international commitments on media freedom.
Meanwhile, leaders of ruling NCP have promised that the disputed provisions of the bill will be removed by parliament. Receiving a memorandum from Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) on Wednesday deputy leader of NCP parliamentary party Subas Nembang expressed his commitment to addressing the journalists’ concerns through amendment to the bill. Nembang said that he will ask the ruling party lawmakers to bring necessary amendments to the bill.
FNJ delegation also submitted memorandums to NCP chief whip Dev Gurung, NC chief whip Balkrishna Khand, NCP chief whip of National Assembly Khimlal Bhattarai, Samajbadi Party Nepal leader Ram Sahaya Yadav and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal chief whip Laxman Lal Karna on Wednesday protesting against the ‘draconian’ provisions of the Media Council Bill.