New Delhi/Lucknow: Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Saturday hit out at the BJP-led central government for the one-day ban handed over to NDTV India, terming it an attack on democracy and said there was an "emergency-like situation" in the country.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu however said the ban in "national interest".
"Today you have seen what has happened to NDTV, they (government) said that you (channel) showed the Pathankot terror attack," Lalu said, addressing the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Samajwadi Party here.
"Ban on NDTV is an attack on democracy. This country is heading towards dictatorship," he said, adding "There is an emergency-like situation in the country."
Lalu said that since NDTV channel "exposes certain people", it has been targeted by the government.
His remarks came after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting directed the Hindi news channel to go off air for a day.
The ban will be effective from the midnight of November 8 to midnight of November 9 on NDTV India for allegedly breaching cable TV norms in its coverage of the January 2 terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base.
The RJD chief also asserted that there is no rift in the Samajwadi Party.
"There is no rift in the Samajwadi Party, and we gave proof by bringing Akhilesh Babu (Yadav) and Shivpal Babu (Singh Yadav) together on stage," he said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav, the SP state unit chief, have been at loggerheads since September.
Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lalu said, "We have seen the condition of Jammu and Kashmir for the last 100 days."
"Someone had told us about their '56-inch chest', but look what is happening at the (India-Pakistan) border now?" he said.
He also said that cross-border surgical strikes were first carried by the Indian Armed forces when Mulayam Singh Yadav was the Defence Minister.
"They are claiming that they had carried out surgical strikes across the border, but they must know that the surgical strikes were first carried out by the forces when Mulayamji was the Defence Minister," Lalu said.
He also said that people were feeling betrayed for voting the BJP to power. Lalu said that once again the BJP was trying to fan communal passions, and was starting to rake up the Ram temple issue as state assembly polls had neared.
"Whenever elections come in Uttar Pradesh they remember Ram Mandir. And as elections are again due in the state, they are remembering Ram Temple to do politics over it," he added.
Reminding the BJP of having stopped its Rath Yatra in Bihar in 1990, Lalu said, "We have stopped their rath in Patna, Samastipur. And again we will unitedly stop them."
Lalu Prasad had stopped BJP leader L.K. Advani's "Rath Yatra" in Samastipur in Bihar when he was traversing across India to gather momentum to construct a temple in Ayodhya.
The former Bihar Chief Minister said that time had come for all secular parties to come together and oppose the BJP.
Lalu said his presence at the Samajwadi Party celebrations was aimed to "chase away" the BJP from Uttar Pradesh.
"We have come here to strengthen the Samajwadi Party. We have chased away BJP from Bihar... we will chase away BJP from Uttar Pradesh too," he remarked.
Lalu Prasad later called Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav near him and asked him to take his 'Rath Yatra' forward and ensure SP's victory. He also asked him to respect his elders and take their blessings.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on the other hand defended the one day ban imposed on NDTV India over its Pathankot coverage and said the decision is for the safety and security of the country.
Naidu told media, "This action of asking a TV channel to take off for one day is in the interest of the country's safety and security. NDTV India ban is a logical conclusion of concerns voiced by the UPA government over coverage of anti-terror operations since 26/11."
He claimed that the decision against NDTV India was not based on 'any newly invented rule and principle'.
He further added that the belated criticism is clearly ill informed and politically inspired to create a controversy.
NDTV India has been told it must go off air on Wednesday as penalty for its coverage of the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in January.