Orissa’s Press in pusillanimity

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s crude conduct in reacting to a couple of recent editorials in the newspaper ‘Sambad’ has pushed Orissa’s media organisations into such a state of pusillanimity that, none of them finds strength to show fraternal support to the paper that brought in, with much patience and dedication, the modern era in publication of newspapers in Orissa.

The Chief Minister, who is the President of BJD, has ousted the party’s Vice-President Soumyaranjan Patnaik from membership of his party after the severe misrule in the State was discussed by Soumyaranjan in Sambad as its editor.

In announcing his action, Naveen Patnaik has declared that Soumyaranjan’s anti-people activities called for his dismissal. Alright, that is political and every political person is supposed to succumb to such actions if the party boss or politburo so decides. The Press has nothing to oppose to that. But, when official ads are denied to the newspaper owned by a political fellow by a political chief minister, it is certainly a matter for the Press to decry the action.

Denial of official ads to Sambad being an instance of severe infringement on freedom of press, we had urged upon all newspapers to stand in solidarity with the Sambad editor and refuse government ads till the chief minister withdraws his illegal off-the-records orders to keep Soumya’s paper on ban for official ads. But not a single newspaper has paid any heed to our call.

Dark clouds shroud over democracy when newspapers fear the government.

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