Panaji, Apr 6 (PTI) Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore today said the “entire” journalist fraternity is under “a whole lot of questions” today from the general public.

He said the questions of integrity faced by the political class – to which he belongs – was now aimed at journalists as well.

He was speaking during an interaction at the ‘Goa Fest 2018’ and was responding to questions from the media on the recent issuance of guidelines by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on fake news, which was subsequently withdrawn after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention.

“It is a fact that (the) entire journalist cadre is actually under (a) whole lot of questions today from the general public. As a political class, which I belong to, the moment I step in, there is a big question mark on the integrity…whether I have done something wrong or not. Journalists are falling under that category now,” he said.

Rathore, who also has the independent charge of the Youth and Sports ministry, added that no news could be stopped in the present times and one had to put out his version as quickly as possible in order to justify himself.

“Let me make some facts clear. In today’s time no news can be stopped. If you want to justify yourself, then you better put out your version as soon as possible,” the minister said.

Speaking further on the fake news circular, he said it had shattered a “myth”, which he claimed was created by the media, that the prime minister was “acting like the whole and sole incharge of all ministries”.

“Media had created a myth that PM is whole and sole incharge and he does not let any minister do anything and keeps every minister under his control. This (circular) confirms that the minister is free to take his decision. In this case, when (the) ministry took a decision, (the) prime minister overruled it in less than 24 hours,” he said.

“The prime minister overruled it and said that the best control is self-control,” he added.

Rathore defended I&B minister Smriti Irani, stating that she had tweeted her willingness to interact with journalists to come up with a solution.

“I am sure that the minister in charge of the ministry would have certain observations and I think she even tweeted that she is willing to interact with journalists and come up with a solution,” Rathore said in Irani’s defence.

On April 2, the ministry had announced norms to contain fake news which said that if publication or telecast of fake news was confirmed, accreditation of the journalist would be suspended for six months in case of first violation and for one year in case of a second violation.

In case of a third violation, his or her accreditation would be cancelled permanently, the ministry had said.

On April 3, the prime minister intervened and asked the I&B ministry to withdraw the circular, adding that the decision on what constituted fake news was to be left to bodies like the Press Council of India and the News Broadcasters Association.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.