Lok Sabha audio shut off for 20 minutes to silence Opposition voices, alleges Congress
The government, however, claimed it was a technical fault.
The Congress on Friday alleged that the audio of Lok Sabha proceedings was muted for 20 minutes to silence the Opposition’s protests against the Centre.
It made the allegations four days after party MP Rahul Gandhi, while addressing British MPs in the United Kingdom’s Parliament, claimed that the microphones of Opposition leaders in the Lok Sabha are often muted.
The party on Friday posted a short video of the live broadcast of Lok Sabha proceedings on Sansad TV, in which Opposition MPs were initially heard shouting slogans of “Rahul ji ko bolne do [Let Rahul ji speak]” before the audio was abruptly cut off.
“Is this democracy?” the Congress asked.
Audio from the telecast remained inaudible for nearly the next 20 minutes. It was restored only when Speaker Om Birla urged members to stop sloganeering and then adjourned the House for the day.
Visuals showed Opposition leaders holding protests near the Speaker’s chair and MPs from the treasury benches also on their feet.
The government, however, denied that the muting of the audio was intentional, NDTV reported. “It was a technical fault, not done by intention,” the channel quoted unidentified officials as saying. “Everyday slogan shouting is being telecast during the interruption.”
On Wednesday, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, wrote to Birla alleging that his microphone had been muted for the last three days.
“I am deeply disheartened to observe that ever since the House resumed after the break on March 13, 2023, there has been a government-sponsored disruption in the House,” he said. “It appears to me as if there is a well-hatched conspiracy on the part of the party in power to tarnish the image of an individual member of an Opposition party.”
Parliament proceedings have faced repeated disruptions throughout this week as Bharatiya Janata Party MPs have been demanding an apology from Gandhi for his “democracy-under-attack” remarks made in London, while the Opposition has been holding protests seeking a Joint Parliamentary Committee inquiry into the allegations made by American firm Hindenburg Research against the Adani Group.
Hindenburg has accused the conglomerate of stock manipulation and improper use of tax havens, which the group has denied.