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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 52, New Delhi, December 11, 2021

I suspend my hosting of the talk show "To the Point" on Sansad TV | Dr Shashi Tharoor

Saturday 11 December 2021

DR. SHASHl THAROOR
Member Of Parliament (Lok Sabha). Thiruvananthapuram
Chairman. Information Technology Committee of Parliament

December 6, 2021

STATEMENT

Since the revamp of parliament’s two television channels in August this year, I have been proud and privileged to host a talk show on Sansad TV, "To The Point". The show permitted me to engage in meaningful conversations with significant figures of our non-political public life, ranging from sitar maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan Sahib to noted cineaste Adoor Gopalakrishnan and VSSC Director Dr S. Somanath.

I believed that my accepting Sansad TV’s invitation to host a show was in the best traditions of India’s parliamentary democracy, reaffirming the principle that our political differences did not prevent us, as Members of Parliament, from participating fully in various parliamentary institutions which belong to us all.

However, the prolonged suspension of 12 MPs from the Rajya Sabha, expelled in an arbitrary manner for actions committed during a previous session, has called into question the very assumption of a bipartisan spirit animating the work of Parliament. As an MP who has gone every morning to greet the protestors and express my solidarity with them, I am concerned that my continued involvement in hosting a show on Sansad TV would be seen as making me complicit in the undemocratic manner in which Parliamentary institutions are being run.

Sadly, Sansad TV itself has been accused of being part of the problem, as adverse comments have been made by many on its habit of having cameras focus on the members of the Treasury benches while ignoring the Opposition. A parliamentary TV channel must, by definition, reflect the diversity of Parliament and not merely whitewash the reality of ParIiament’s current functioning.

On reflection, and in solidarity with protesting MPs, I have decided to suspend my hosting of the talk show "To the Point" on Sansad TV until such time as the suspensions of MPs are revoked and a semblance of bipartisanship restored to the conduct of Parliament and the functioning of Sansad TV.

Dr Shashi Tharoor


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