New Delhi, Mar 15 (PTI) Shiv Sena member Priyanka Chaturvedi on Monday raised in Rajya Sabha the issue of a group of ministers reportedly formed in mid-2020 to suggest ways to 'neutralise' media outlets questioning the government.
Raising the issue through a zero hour mention, Chaturvedi said the group of nine ministers was reportedly formed to suggest ways to 'neutralise some media agencies which were speaking up against the government.' 'Not against the nation but against the government,' she said, adding that the group was asked 'How to neutralise them. And how to promote those agencies which are talking pro-government.' The GoM reportedly comprised External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Law and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Textile and Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani and Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar.
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur were among the other ministers.
'How can we discriminate in a democracy between those agencies which speak up for the cause of the people of the country and speak against the government and question them,' Chaturvedi said.
'Doesn't it go against the freedom of speech as well as press freedom that has been consistently sliding down as far as India is concerned?' she said.
Sasmit Patra of the BJD wanted athletes participating in the 2021 Olympics and their support staff be vaccinated against COVID-19.
In all about 150 sports persons and an equal number of support staff are due to participate in the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to start from July 23, he said adding there are another 700 support staff members with whom the athletes are training.
All of them should be vaccinated on priority, he said.
This would reassure sports persons as well as bolster India's efforts at the Olympics, he added.
Vandana Chavan (NCP) demanded that marital rape be made a criminal offense.
Noting that incidents of marital rape rose during the lockdown, she said if beating, as well as mental and physical torture, can be an offence, so should be marital rape.
While Ashok Bajpai of the BJP wanted Awadhi language to be included in the 8th Schedule, Tiruchi Siva (DMK) wanted stories on unsung women warriors of India's freedom struggle to be included in the CBSE school syllabus.
Phulo Devi Netam (Cong) wanted the duration for which central paramilitary personnel can continue to hold a government accommodation in the national capital despite being posted out, be doubled to 6 years and penalties levied for exceeding the stay be waived.
Prashanta Nanda of the BJD wanted classical status to Odissi music, while Sanajaoba Leishemba (BJP) wanted a special task force to be set up to protect archaeologically important sites in his home state of Manipur from encroachment and vandalism. PTI ANZ ANZ DV DV