On a day when all arrangements had been made in the Lok Sabha to cross every hurdle and pass the contentious Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014, Lok Sabha Television went blank one minute into the afternoon’s proceedings.
What’s worse, there was no recording of the hour-and-25 minute-long proceedings, providing fodder to the BJP to raise the spectre of an Emergency-like blackout by the Congress.
But, Chief Executive Officer of LSTV Rajiv Mishra told The Hindu that the uplinking station in the Parliament Library Building lost signal from inside the main complex at 3.01 p.m.
Denying the charge that LSTV had been instructed to stop live telecast, he countered: “We have been showing live transmission of all the disruptions, including last Thursday’s incident [pepper spray], so why would we blackout today?”
The cut in transmission came to the notice of BJP members in the House when the Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj was making her intervention in the brief discussion on the Bill and some protested momentarily. Later, the BJP called a press conference to communicate the party’s position on the Bill.
“We strongly condemn the blackout of the proceedings of the Lok Sabha. It was done without our knowledge.” She claimed that the Lok Sabha Secretariat was not providing “us the audio or video recording” of her speech on the Telangana Bill.
Referring to the LSTV’s claim of a “technical glitch,” Ms. Swaraj said it was a “tactical glitch.” Insiders said such a thing had never happened ever since live telecast of Parliament proceedings was launched in the 14th Lok Sabha.
Attributing the breakdown in transmission to technical problems, the Lok Sabha Secretariat said: “It is unfortunate that people were unable to watch the live telecast of the passage of this Bill, which was done democratically. The Press was present in full strength in the Press Gallery at all times to witness and report how the events unfolded. All the proceedings are on record and in the public domain.”