image courtesy:Hindustan Times

The Congress on Monday released a commemorative edition of the newspaper National Herald in Bengaluru as part of its relaunch. Vice President Hamid Ansari and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi were present at the event where “India at Crossroads: 70 years of Independence” was released.

The National Herald, which was founded by the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru during the freedom struggle is being relaunched online and in print as a weekly.

Speaking at a function of the National Herald newspaper here, Rahul Gandhi said, “The power of truth is being completely replaced with the truth of power and anybody who attempts to speak the truth and stand for it is being pushed aside”. Dalits are beaten, minorities threatened,” the Congress vice president said in Bengaluru.

Vice President M Hamid Ansari said, that a free media is not only beneficial but necessary in a free society.

“The duty of the State is thus clear. A free media is not only beneficial but necessary in a free society. If press freedom is attacked, it will result in the jeopardising of citizen’s rights. When faced with unjust restrictions and the threat of attack, self-censorship in the media can have the opposite effect, aiding the covering up of abuses and fostering frustration in marginalised communities,” M Hamid Ansari said.

Gandhi said he had asked the editors to criticize the Congress party when required. “The National Herald should speak the truth,” he said.

The formal launch of the weekly newspaper will be held on June 20 in New Delhi and President Pranab Mukherjee is expected to attend the event, according to sources.

“A Soviet poet once said, when truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie. That is what the government is trying to do. The National Herald has a strong spirit and will not be silenced. Speak the truth, do not be silenced, do not be scared. Thousands of journalists are not being allowed to write what we want,” Rahul Gandhi alleged.

The National Herald was founded and edited by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, in 1938 as a tool to win Independence. Nearly eight decades later, it has come to signify a legal tangle for Sonia Gandhi – the widow of Nehru’s grandson Rajiv Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, the two top leaders of the Congress.

In an interview to nationalheraldindia.com, published on the website on Monday, Rahul Gandhi says joblessness is one of the biggest challenges the country currently faces. “All the prime minister has given India is the highest level of unemployment we have faced in the last five years,” he said.

The Congress vice president further took on the BJP saying the party refuses to listen to the people. “They don’t realise that gradually people will run out of patience for their hollow words and unfulfilled promises,” Rahul Gandhi said.

Gandhi also alleged that thousands of journalists were not being allowed to write what they wanted to. “They (journalists) tell me that they are not being allowed to write what they want to,” Rahul Gandhi said.

Recalling that he was not allowed to visit Madhya Pradesh during the recent farmers’ protest and Uttar Pradesh and was stopped at the border of both the states, Rahul Gandhi said, “This is the India we are living in where power will simply manufacture the truth”.

The former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s had called for the media to play the role of a ‘watchdog’, Ansari said imbibing that role was important in this age of ‘post-truths and alternative facts’. Ansari praised Nehru, who founded the National Herald newspaper. “He watched over the interests of the media persons in an independent India.”