Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today accused the Narendra Modi regime of trying to give away Internet space to some corporate groups, a charge vehemently denied by the government. Raising the issue during Zero Hour in Lok Sabha, Gandhi said the government “wants to distribute Internet among industrialists. Every youth should have access to Internet…This government wants to carve out the Internet and hand it over to some corporates.” Also Read - Government to offer free movies to new internet users in remote areas: Report
He demanded that either the existing laws be amended or a new law be brought. Congress and BJP members indulged in a war of words over the issue, as IT and Communication Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took a dig at the erstwhile UPA government over the spectrum allocation scam and claimed that the Modi government wanted internet for all 125 crore Indians. Also Read - Assembled in India: IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad shows locally made Apple iPhone XR
Gandhi had earlier begun his speech by making a sarcastic reference to US President Barack Obama’s write-up on Modi in a prominent US magazine. Observing that Obama had written a long piece praising Modi, he said no US President had spoken so highly of an Indian Prime Minister and the praise was similar to the one made by the then US President for the erstwhile USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, under whom the country had disintegrated. Also Read - Indian government considering monitoring internet through a centralized system
In his response, Prasad said the BJP government stood for ‘digital India’ and the Internet was available to people in a “non-discriminatory” manner. “Government wants to assure Parliament… Prime Minister speaks of digital India so that 125 crore people have the Internet,” he said.
Playing down the TRAI consultation paper in this regard which has sparked a debate over net-neutrality, he said the regulatory body was doing it under the Act governing the issue, but it was “for me and the government to take a final call on the issue.”