Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress-led opposition staged a walkout in the Kerala Assembly on Thursday after the government justified new curbs on media and refused a debate.
Though industries minister E. P. Jayarajan, in the absence of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, said the government would make "appropriate changes" in the "guidelines" if required, that did not satisfy them as Mr Vijayan had also made a similar promise when they raised it as a submission earlier.
Congress legislator K.C. Joseph, a former information minister, sought permission for an adjournment motion alleging attempts to gag the media.
Mr Jayarajan said the "guidelines" ensuring official intervention in interactions between reporters and ministers, legislators and officials were not intended to regulate them but for a better environment.
Refusal of the motion by speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan led the opposition to walk out. Mr Joseph said the circular had a provision that the media can interact with ministers only after obtaining prior permission from the public relations department (PRD).
Additional chief secretary (home) Subrata Biswas signed the circular and not the PRD, which shows it was with the knowledge of the CM bringing interaction with even celebrities at the Secretariat and other public places under the scanner.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said it restricts media interaction with prominent people at airports, railway stations, guesthouses and other public places and he was not going to take permission from the PRD.
"Who are the prominent persons mentioned in the circular? Do opposition members also come under this category? If so, it was part of an agenda to make surveillance on the opposition," he said.
Deputy opposition leader Dr MK Muneer said it's an official version of the chief minister's infamous kadakku purathu (get out) to the media persons and derogatory remarks against the editor of a leading Malayalam daily....