Condemning the intolerance of the Karnataka government towards the media, BJP leader SM Krishna on Wednesday urged Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to withdraw the FIR filed against a Kannada editor over an article criticizing the Chief Minister’s son Nikhil.
“The FIR against ‘Vishwavahini’ editor Vishweshwar Bhat should be withdrawn as it amounts to abuse of power and interference in the freedom of press,” Krishna said in a statement here.
The FIR was booked on Monday after Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) General Secretary Pradeep Kumar filed a complaint at a police station against Bhat for reporting on May 25 that Nikhil blamed former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda for his defeat in the Lok Sabha election.
“I don’t understand the need for a Chief Minister to make his crony file a complaint and order the police to book a case against the editor of a leading Kannada daily instead of refuting the news story and clarifying what actually transpired between his son (Nikhil) and his father (Gowda) on the phone,” said Krishna in the statement.
According to the article, which Bhat claimed was based on reliable sources, an inebriated Nikhil had shouted at Gowda senior at the latter’s residence for not ensuring his victory from Mandya and failing to prevent Congress leaders from campaigning for the Independent (Sumalatha Ambareesh) and voting in favour of her.
Multilingual South Indian actress Sumalatha won the high-profile Mandya seat by a margin of 1,25,876 votes in the otherwise JD-S bastion, about 100 km southwest of Bengaluru in the old Mysuru region.
Noting that the authoritarian act of the police at the behest of the Chief Minster was a sign of frustration over the ignominious defeat, Krishna said the “undemocratic and dictatorial attitude” was dangerous to the independent functioning of the media.
Krishna, 87, who hails from Maddur in Mandya district, joined the BJP in March 2018 after quitting the Congress in January 2018. He campaigned for Sumalatha.
Nikhil was a joint candidate in Mandya where the politically powerful Vokkaliga community to which the Gowda clan belongs is a dominant force.
Of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, a resurgent BJP won 25 while the JD-S and Congress won only one each to retain Bangalore Rural and Hassan, where Nikhil’s cousin brother Prajwal Revanna defeated BJP’s A Manju.