Kolkata : The Congress has decided to reach out to the Paschim Banga chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is the target of much criticism in the social media over her handling of the cartoonist issue. Union Home minister P Chidambaram will introduce a new bill in Parliament – the National Cartoonist Terrorism Center (NCTC) – and all political parties have given their consent. The Bill puts cartooning and terrorism on par and once the Center is formed, all cartoonists and satirists will have to submit their cartoons and articles for approval and only those that are passed, can be published.
That’s not all. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has hinted that he will impose a 40 per cent service tax on every cartoonist and satirist. Giving details of this first-of-its-kind legislation, IT minister Kapil Sibal said cartoons cause terrible loss to the person’s credibility. “The loss is not zero. So we have to take action. We are talking to Twitter to ensure that no tweet is published about any person on our list, unless it is cleared by my ministry,” he explained.
Sources in the government told Tenali Rama that not just politicians like Karunanidhi, Rahul Gandhi, Yeddyurappa and Suresh Kalmadi have expressed happiness over the proposal to form the NCTC, non-politicians like Vijay Mallya, Shahrukh Khan and even Ravi Shastri have applied for inclusion in the NCTC list.
“All three results are possible,” said Shastri. “They could include me, not include me or may include Rameez Raja instead. Whatever it is, this decision will surely go down to the wire.”
The Left parties, who are spearheading the agitation against Mamata in Paschim Banga, are giving conditional support to the NCTC. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said, “Cartoonists should be allowed to take potshots at the people in power. Yes, those in opposition should be exempted.”
The Centre has convened a meeting in New Delhi on Monday to clarify doubts about the NCTC. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, for instance, has asked if he will also be banned under the NCTC while Jayalalithaa is all for NCTC, if only cartoons about Karunanidhi are allowed.
(Cartoon courtesy : bihardays.com)