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A reminder of Emergency days: BJP

By Our Tamil Nadu Bureau

Coimbatore Nov. 8. The State BJP president, C.P. Radhakrishnan, today described the situation arising out of the Speaker's order to arrest the editors and reporters of The Hindu and Murasoli as ``one which was seen only during the Emergency.''

Mr. Radhakrishnan, who took part in a protest organised by the Coimbatore Press Club, the Coimbatore Journalists Union and the Tamil Nadu Union of Journalists here, said the Government should have the ``equanimity'' to take criticism in its stride and in the ``right spirit''.

Criticism should be seen as part of democracy. ``Even if it crosses the limit, those in power should react with restraint.'' The rulers should remember that biased criticism would definitely be ignored by people. But repressive measures were against the spirit of democracy.

Mr. Radhakrishnan recalled the role played by the media in protecting democracy in critical times such as during the Emergency, and said repressive measures would go against the reputation of India being the second largest democracy.

`Outrageous'

In Tiruchi, the BJP State general secretary, H. Raja, said the Assembly decision to imprison the editors and journalists of The Hindu and Murasoli ``is outrageous and condemnable, to say the least.'' Legislatures and Parliament had a responsibility to protect the rights of the fourth estate and any action, on privilege issues should only be against scurrilous writing. But The Hindu had not committed any such offence, he told the media.

The Speaker's ruling, on the last day of the monsoon session, against the journalists and the DMK MLA, Parithi Ilamvazhuthi, came as a big shock to all those who had faith in democracy. The jailing of Mr. Ilamvazhuthi went against the principle of natural justice as he had been placed under suspension during the Budget session itself on the same issue, he said.

Asked whether the State BJP would participate in the human chain agitation called by the DMK for November 12, Mr. Raja said, ``we will consider if invited''. The district units of the BJP would hold demonstrations in front of Collectorates over the next few days.

Answering a query, Mr. Raja, however, said, the situation in Tamil Nadu did not warrant the invoking of Article 356 (President's rule).

`Criticism of PM uncalled for'

On the criticism made against the Centre and the Prime Minister, by the Ministers and the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, during Friday's Assembly proceedings, he said it was uncalled for. He rejected the Finance Minister, C. Ponnaiyan's contention that Tamil Nadu was being discriminated against in devolution of funds.

Reeling out statistics from the State ``budget papers'', Mr. Raja said the allocation to Tamil Nadu had only increased over the last four years. ``The Minister should stop blaming the Centre to cover up his own failures.''

Referring to Ms. Jayalalithaa's criticism of the Prime Minister on the Cauvery issue, Mr. Raja said he was doing his best to evolve a consensus in the given situation. Invoking Article 356 to dismiss the Karnataka Government, as suggested by the Chief Minister, would require Congress support as the National Democratic Alliance by itself did not have the numbers in Parliament.

But, he said, it was the Dravidian parties which failed to protect the interests of delta farmers, having allowed Karnataka to increase its area of cultivation.

Mr. Raja dismissed as a ``pipe dream'' the possibility of a non-BJP, non-Congress third front emerging at the national level.

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