The Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri has issued a notification banning journalists from entering the Legislators’ House (LH), located next to the Vidhana Soudha or the assembly house. This latest order comes after he banned television cameras from the house of the Assembly in October last year. A notification in this regard was issued on February 18.
“Electronic and print media cannot enter the Legislators’ House at any time,” the notification from the Speaker’s office reads.
The notification makes the argument that the time spent by MLAs at the Legislators’ House is private and hence, journalists cannot be allowed.
“Legislators’ House is a space for MLAs who come from their constituencies to Bengaluru during the Assembly session. The time they spend here is private. When journalists come to meet legislators here, it is an evasion of their privacy,” the notification adds.
It states that journalists can meet the MLAs outside the gate of the Legislators’ House. “Arrangements will be made for journalists to speak to MLAs outside the gate. No journalist or camera person will be allowed inside the gate,” the notification adds.
This is not the first time the ruling BJP government has made it difficult for journalists to access information and resources. In October 2019, Speaker Kageri had banned television channels from bringing their cameras inside the Assembly. The Speaker also banned journalists without accreditation from entering the house of the Assembly.
BJP sources close to state President Nalin Kumar Kateel and also Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had earlier told TNM that the decision to impose the ban on cameras came from the leadership in New Delhi. "It was [BJP national general secretary] BL Santosh who instructed the Speaker to follow the model that is currently in practise in the Parliament. The national leadership is adamant that this ban will not be revoked," the source had said.
A source with the ruling party say that the decision comes after legislators gave statements to the media at the LH earlier in February ahead of the cabinet expansion.
MLA from Hukkeri, Umesh Katti had spoken to the electronic media and stated that he is an aspirant for a ministerial post. MLA from Shorapur Narasimha Nayak alias Raju Gouda had also demanded a ministry for one of the leaders from the Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
“Legislators have been instructed to give statements that align with the party’s decision,” the source added.