Kolhapur (Maharashtra), Feb 11 (IANS) Nearly a week after Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar suggested a gag on the media, his uncle and union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar Friday expressed “regrets” over the remarks.
“Any leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) does such a thing, the party will not endorse it. It is not the party’s policy,” Pawar told reporters during his two-day trip to western Maharashtra.
He suggested the formation of a committee comprising senior mediapersons like Kumar Ketkar and Arun Sadhu to examine the entire episode.
“If any wrong has been done, then we shall apologise,” Sharad Pawar said.
The media in Mumbai responded shortly thereafter by agreeing to bury the hatchet vis-à-vis the Pawars and lifted the state-wide ban on covering the events of both Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and his deputy Ajit Pawar.
The Patrakar Halla Virodhi Kruti Samiti boycotted Chavan’s weekly media briefing Thursday.
“We are ending the ban after Sharad Pawar’s regrets. However, we shall still hold the state-wide agitation Feb 15 (Tuesday), seeking enactment of suitable laws to protect mediapersons from all types of attacks,” an office-bearer for the Samiti said.
The media ban on Ajit Pawar became an embarrassment for the NCP, especially since it was followed by Sharad Pawar’s own outburst against the media Thursday in Satara.
“When the onion prices shot up, I was blamed. Now, when the onion rates have plummetted, I am being held responsible. I must be careful now with the media,” Sharad Pawar said.
Pune mediapersons boycotted the function attended by Ajit Pawar and held in honour of Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, who passed away in Pune last month.
Assembled journalists, sporting black ribbons, downed their pens while the electronic media switched off their television cameras when Ajit Pawar came on the dais to speak.
Last week, at a function in Nanded, Ajit Pawar attacked the media and alleged it was reporting untruths and half-truths. He suggested a gag on those indulging in such journalism and caning of such scribes.
A media delegation has met Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, protesting Ajit Pawar’s remarks and demanding enactment of laws to prevent attacks on the media.