Marathi daily editor appears in House, expresses regret

The editor of a Belgaum-based Marathi daily appeared before the Legislative Assembly on Monday and expressed “regret” for publishing articles against two MLAs. 

The Assembly last week had resolved to summon before the House Kiran Thakur, editor of Tarun Bharat, for breach of privilege for publishing articles against Abhay Patil, a BJP MLA from Belgaum South, and S B Ghatage, Congress MLA from Kudachi. Soon after the House assembled on Monday, Speaker K G Bopaiah directed the marshal to bring Thakur before the House. 

He was made to stand in the witness box at the instance of the Opposition members.

Thakur had a translator on his side, but the Speaker allowed him to speak in English.Thakur read out a prepared statement that he had high respect for the House and its members, and his newspaper had never published any material that would undermine the dignity and supremacy of the House.

He said his newspapers had never used any abusive or unparliamentary language either against the House or its members.

Thakur said that being the head of several institutions, it was not possible for him to scan every news item published. “Hence, if inadvertently or even remotely any act or omission on my part has invaded the supremacy of the House, I assure this House that it will not be repeated... I express my regret,” Thakur said. Thereafter, Thakur was asked to leave the House.

However, several Congress and JD(S) legislators complained that the editor was being let off lightly. BJP MLA C N Ashwathnarayana, who is also the chairperson of the privileges committee, said Thakur had contradicted the contents of his report on the floor of the House and that he be given an opportunity to speak.  Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar urged the members “to close the matter” as Thakur had expressed regret. 

Gadkari’s intervention?

It is said BJP national president Nitin Gadkari had called up Shettar and State president K S Eshwarappa Monday morning and requested them not to precipitate the issue.

Gadkari, who hails from Maharashtra, is said to have told Shettar to handle the matter delicately as it had the potential to snowball into a conflict between the two states. Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray had criticised the move of the Karnataka Assembly to summon Thakur and had termed it a “Talibani act”. Patil and Ghatage had petitioned the Speaker and submitted documents in support of their complaint that the newspaper published articles tarnishing their image with baseless allegations for the past three years.

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