• Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 05:30
Former journalist and Karnataka MP Pratap Simha has been appointed as a member of the Press Council of India. Simha’s profile on the Lok Sabha website says that he has been a member of the PCI since April 21 this year. However, this remained unknown until a Kannada daily and Kannada website Just Kannada reported it on June 15, and Mysuru-based eveninger Star of Mysore carried the item the following day. On Wednesday, senior journalist and former editor of Kannada daily Kannada Prabha Vishweshwar Bhat congratulated him by posting the image of a Kannada news report. Simha too posted the same image on his website on June 16. Incidentally, the Mysuru-Kodagu MP faces a case in Dakshina Kannada district for allegedly threatening Mangaluru-based journalist with News Karnataka website Shreyas H S. On May 7, Shreyas H S had lodged a complaint with the police alleging that Simha had threatened to “finish him off” after a story he did on the MP’s Facebook post expressing sympathy with Salman Khan. In the complaint, Shreyas alleged that Simha and also allegedly threatened to break Shreyas’ legs, and “chop off the hand you write with”. Simha had denied the allegations. On Wednesday, he was not available for comment at the time of writing. Read: Case filed against BJP MP Pratap Simha for threatening a journalist, Simha denies it Simha is one of 28 members who are appointed to the Council by the government. Of the total, 20 members are journalists, five are drawn from the two houses of Parliament, and three represent the cultural sphere. Currently, the council is headed by retired justice Chandramouli Kumar Prasad. The Press Council Act 1978 says that the mandate of the council was “preserving the freedom of the Press and of maintaining and improving the standards of newspapers and news agencies in India.” Elected to the Lok Sabha on a BJP ticket, this is Simha’s first foray into politics after a fairly long career as a journalist. Simha had joined Kannada daily Vijaya Karnataka as a trainee in 1999, and went on to become the newspaper’s lead edit writer when Vishweshwar Bhat was the editor. His column “Bettale Jagattu” (The naked world), espoused Hindutva and was fiercely critical of anybody who opposed it. He later worked with Kannada Prabha, a daily owned by independent Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekar, before quitting to contest the elections. In August 2012, a journalist with Deccan Herald, Muthi-ur-Rehman Siddiqui was arrested by the Karnataka police along with 14 others, allegedly because he was part of a terrorist conspiracy to kill Simha and some politicians. However, in February 2013, the police dropped charges against him – the alleged mastermind – and two others. Simha has written two books on prime minister Narendra Modi, including an unofficial biography titled “Narendra Modi; a path that no one has trodden” and “Modi: Muslim Virodhiye?” (Modi: Is he anti-Muslim?) and others such as “Tipu Sultan: A Freedom fighter?”. Other books include collections of his columns Bettale Jagattu. Update: MP Pratap Simha clarified late on Wednesday that he had received a letter from the Press Council of India in the first week of June. He posted the letter on Twitter. Dated June 3, the letter says that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had appointed him as a member of the PCI on May 15.