BENGALURU:In a clear indication that neither he nor his ministers appreciate unsolicited questions from the media, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has asked the police to restrict movement of journalists inside Vidhana Soudha.
After relentlessly accusing the media of being unfair and biased against him and his government, Kumaraswamy has asked for a designated place to be assigned for journalists and not allow them access to all areas of Karnataka’s power corridor. The CM has specifically given oral instructions that journalists not be allowed near ministers’ chambers.
“You (journalists) are seen hounding ministers, including me, holding mics asking us questions on topics that we sometimes aren’t even aware of. Each person tries to get responses as and when they want. You ask us questions when we are in a hurry or in some other mood,” Kumaraswamy said stopping short of declaring a ban on media’s free movement within the corridors of Vidhana Soudha.
The Chief Minister on Tuesday was compelled to confess that he had instructed the police to restrict media movement after being confronted by reporters. He, however, chose to mask his move as a “special arrangement with better amenities to help media report better”. “Considering the suggestions and criticisms we have received, I have given directions to give you a separate room where ministers and officials will come and address you,” Kumaraswamy said.Meanwhile, the Congress, while in agreement with the Chief Minister that media is unkind to the government, is not too happy with Kumaraswamy’s decision.
Government restricting media is not democratic: BJP
To justify his attempt to curb press freedom in Vidhana Soudha, Kumaraswamy said that middlemen and agents were moving around Vidhana Soudha, as captured on CCTV cameras, and interrupting ministers’ work and there was a need to curb illegal activities in the secretariat.
The Congress, while in agreement with the CM that media is unkind to the government, is not too happy with the decision. “Some restriction is required but there really was no need to go about it this way. The CM could have called for a meeting with journalists and expressed concerns to arrive at an amicable solution. We are not sure if cabinet ministers were consulted before making such announcements,” a senior Congress legislator said.
While Kumaraswamy doesn’t want to be on the backfoot when confronted by the media, his cabinet colleagues have a different view. “We believe in the freedom of the press. CM is perhaps concerned about security arrangements. We welcome the media’s criticisms,” said D K Shivakumar, Minister for Medical Education and Water Resources.
The BJP has called the decision as undemocratic. “The government’s order restricting media is undemocratic and against the principles of freedom of the press. The government that doesn’t have a majority is imposing a dictatorial regime,” said BJP spokesperson S Prakash.