Senior leaders of ruling party stand against proposed Media Council BillThe government should not make any move that contravenes the constitution, they say
Tika R Pradhan
Amid journalists’ protest against the Media Council Bill, presented by the government in Parliament, some senior leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party too have stood against it.
Journalists’ umbrella group, the Federation of Nepali Journalists, and rights activists say some provisions of the bill have been designed in such a way that they curtail press freedom, which will be against the preamble of the constitution that guarantees full press freedom.
On Saturday, senior leader of Nepal Communist Party Madhav Kumar Nepal broke his silence on the bill saying the controversial bill should not be endorsed by Parliament.
Speaking at a press conference organised by the party’s journalists’ wing, Press Sangathan Nepal, in Nepalgunj, he called for revisions in the bill so as to make it widely acceptable. “Since the bill has landed in controversy, it must be moved forward only after making it acceptable to all,” Nepal said.
Another senior leader of the party, Jhalanath Khanal, also has criticised the bill.
“I had organised a press meet in Jhapa recently and expressed my concern over the bills that contravene the constitution,” Khanal told the Post.
At a press meet organised by the district chapter of Press Sangathan Nepal in Jhapa on May 20, Khanal had said that the government should not bring any law contradicting the constitution.
“I have taken the struggle of the Federation of Nepali Journalists positively,” he had said at the press meet.
Leaders of the ruling party, it seems, have found some room to express their views due to the Media Council Bill. Party leaders in recent months have largely maintained silence on several moves made by the government, largely due to fear and coercion imposed by the leadership.
The Media Council Bill is one of the several steps the KP Sharma Oli government has taken in recent months which, journalists and rights defenders say, trample on civil liberties and freedom of expression.
Party Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha on Friday said that the Media Council Bill won’t be endorsed in its present form as it would curtail press freedom.
“A bill that allows entry of government appointees in majority and empowers them to work as a judge must be changed,” said Shrestha at a function organised by the National Human Rights Academy. Earlier on May 19, senior party leaders and journalists close to the party had criticised Minister for Communication, Information and Technology Gokul Baskota for bringing such a controversial bill, saying that it had tarnished the image of the party.
During the meeting, deputy leader of the Parliamentary Party Subash Chandra Nembang had said he would not support the bill in good conscience, as he has been fighting on the side of press freedom since the Panchayat days.
Standing committee members Yogesh Bhattarai and Pampha Bhusal had also urged Baskota to reconsider the bill.