Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday slammed Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju for his 'unsubstantiated' remarks on curbs on press freedom in the state and trashed the PCI fact finding report.
"Katju has cross the lines behooving dignity of his constitutional post and attacked me without substance for muzzling freedom of press in Bihar," Kumar told the Assembly.
Kumar criticised Katju for his 'biased' and 'motivated' attack on him in 'brazen violation' of the dignity of the constitutional post that the retired Supreme Court judge held. "I am particularly baffled at the PCI chief's remarks equating me with Ghananand, the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty, it is particularly objectionable as the comments were made to demean me," an angry Chief Minister said.
"Justice Katju simply did not show respect to the constitutional post or his distinguished family background by comparing me with with Ghananand, whose fall led to collapse of the Nanda dynasty," Kumar said.
"The incumbent PCI chief has no business to indulge in making biased, motivated and ill-tempered comments against other constitutional persons," Kumar said.
"Although Katju has tried to malign me by casting baseless aspersions to undermine my position and persona, I am not going to be rattled and will discharge my duties as per the mandate of the people," he said,
"Justice Katju has not elected my government, it is the people of Bihar who have elected us ... the PCI chairman should be mindful of facts and must respect the democratic and constitutional institutions all the time," the Chief Minister said.
Kumar also trashed the PCI fact finding report as 'biased'.
It was compiled at the behest of a person who has charged the state government with muzzling the freedom of press and formed a team to probe the charges, he said.
The report was made public even before it could be ratified by the full panel of the PCI, Kumar added. Defending the state government's media policy, the CM said the government has never put pressure or influenced media houses to write news reports in a particular manner.
"No censorship has been imposed on the media in Bihar and the media is absolutely free to write whatever it desires," Kumar said.
He asked under what rules and on whose complaint that the PCI chairman found it appropriate to form the fact finding team to probe the alleged press censorship in Bihar.
Kumar also appeared to question the integrity of the members of the fact finding panel saying that he was aware of the type of requests that some media persons made to the government.
He asked the PCI chairman to explain under what provisions of the law that the report was released or leaked to the media and sections of people to run down his government in a motivated manner.
Kumar said he had initially chosen not to react to Katju's repeated charge that were made at fora not appropriate for making' political and motivated' comments against a democratically-elected government and persons holding such posts, but let go his fury after the opposition raked up the issue.
The chief minister defended the state government's advertisement policy and role of the Information and Public Relations Department and said that it has remained consistent over the years.
Katju had visited Bihar on two occasions in 2012 and lambasted the chief minister for press censorship and coercive attitude towards the media and media persons to paint Bihar in a glorified manner.
Kumar's attack on the PCI chairman came days after NDA leader Arun Jaitley hit out at him for exceeding his constitutional brief by attacking Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and questioning his prime ministerial credentials.