MLA Manju's press meet results in high drama

Election observers raised an objection to a press meet convened by one of the Lok Sabha nominees, in Hassan, on Wednesday.

It led to heated arguments between the officials and the journalists, following which, a complaint was reported to the Deputy Commissioner.

It is said that the election observers were not allowed into the hall, where the press meet was being held. So, they tried to enter the premises with the help of police personnel.

This led to a wordy duel between the journalists and the election observers and the issue was brought to the notice of Deputy Commissioner V Anbu Kumar.

Congress candidate A Manju, sitting Arkalgud MLA, was surrounded by some reporters on the premises of the DC’s office, after he filed his nomination papers. As Prohibitory Orders were in place on the premises of the DC’s office, he was requested to come to the Press Club, nearby.

By the time Manju and other leaders arrived there, two videographers appointed by the election officials too arrived on the spot, to record the press meet. The journalists, however, asked them to leave, citing that holding a press meet at the Press Club was not a violation of the poll code of conduct.

Within a couple of minutes, Observer Hanumantha Reddy, accompanied by a videographer, arrived on the spot. The journalist explained the situation to him, but Reddy was adamant on recording the press meet proceedings.

Reddy allegedly threatened to include the names of media persons in the complaint on poll code violation and submit it to the Election Officer.  However, they were sent out of the Press Club.

Some time later, the secretary of the Press Club received a telephone call from Information Officer Vinodchandra, directing him to allow Tahsildar Manjunath and Assistant Commissioner B Sharat to be present during the press meet. The secretary did not agree.

Hanumantha Reddy again visited the Press Club, accompanied by three policemen. He said, as Manju had not taken prior permission, the DC had sent him to videograph the meeting. Commotion prevailed for a while and Manju and other leaders left the premises abruptly, ending the press meet.

Irked over the developments, the media persons went to the DC’s office, where they were not let inside, citing reasons of nomination process.

The DC himself came out of the office and listened to the media persons. Later, he took Reddy to task, saying that the candidate has the right to express his opinion in front of the media. “No officer has the right to curb the freedom of the press,” he said.

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