Bangalore: Amidst high drama in the Legislative Assembly, Kiran Thakur, editor of Marathi daily Tarun Bharat, who had been summoned by the House for a reprimand, said he was “sorry” for publishing “fictitious and malicious” reports against MLAs from Belgaum district Abhay Patil and Shyam Ghatge. It is said that the government chose to underplay the incident, following a phone call made by BJP national president Nitin Gadkari to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar. As a result, the witness box that was kept in the Assembly hall was removed.
Sources said both the CM and Speaker K G Bopaiah wanted to close the issue “in the best interest of the people living in border areas”. However, when both the ruling party and the Opposition members demanded Thakur’s summoning, the government wanted him to apologise, but not from the witness box. When the House proceedings started at 11.30 am, the Opposition insisted Bopaiah keep the witness box there as there was no other way that a non-member could enter the House.
Reading out a two-page letter, Thakur said he had no intention of disrespecting any members of the Legislature, including Patil and Ghatge. “I sincerely feel that this clash between the two pillars of democracy -- the Legislature and the press -- is unnecessary.” Thakur also said as “the head of several institutions”, he had to rely on his subordinates and editorial staff. “I am unable to scan every news item. Hence, if inadvertently or even remotely any act or omission on my part has invaded the supremacy of this House, I assure this House that it will not be repeated,” he said.
When several members expressed anger as Thakur did not apologise, Bopaiah asked Thakur whether he apologised. Then the editor said he was “sorry”. Privilege Committee Chairman Dr C N Ashwathnarayana said the journalist had spoken against the members and the committee. “When we cannot protect the privilege of the House and its members, why there should be committee?” he asked. Later speaking to reporters outside the Assembly, Thakur said the members misused the supremacy of the House.