Rahul Gandhi jumps into net neutrality debate, attacks govt in Parliament

22 Apr, 2015

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday accused the Narendra Modi government 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."

He demanded that either the existing laws be amended or a new law be brought.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (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 United Progressive alliance (UPA) government over the spectrum allocation scam and claimed that the Modi government wanted Internet for all 1.25 billion Indians.

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 consultation paper issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in this regard, which sparked a debate over Net neutrality, Prasad 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."

Gandhi earlier on Wednesday had sought suspension of question hour in Lok Sabha and had given a notice for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue of Net neutrality.