In his first six months as Chief Minister of the state, Kumaraswamy has repeatedly had clashes with the media over a number of issues.

Why Kumaraswamy has claimed he will never speak to the media again
news Media Friday, November 23, 2018 - 14:39

On Thursday, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy vowed not to address the media anymore. The decision comes as no surprise to journalists, who have reported on the Chief Minister and his government for the last six months. In fact, it is the latest flashpoint in his tumultuous relationship with the members of the press.

Kumaraswamy announced his decision to stop addressing press conferences at the launch of 'Badavara Bandhu' (an interest-free loan scheme for street vendors) in the APMC yard of Yeshwanthpur in Bengaluru. “I am scared to talk about anything these days. We are in a situation in which perhaps, a committee should be constituted to form guidelines on how a Chief Minister speaks to the media. From now on, I will speak to the media from the stage; but I will limit the interactions to just that. I have come to a decision that I won’t address the press for any reason,” he said at the event. 

In his first six months as the Chief Minister of the state, Kumaraswamy has repeatedly clashed with the media over a number of issues.

In July, Kumaraswamy blamed the media for trying to divide the state by holding discussions on the demand for a separate North Karnataka state. "My media friends, you are responsible for lighting the fire for protests in North Karnataka with all the discussions on channels. I am not against farmers; I am only quoting the farmers in Koppal, who were protesting for the full farmer loan waiver," he had told reporters in Bengaluru.

The demand raised by activists in North Karnataka was the subject of numerous articles and television discussions after a bandh was called on August 2 in connection with the issue. This appeared to have irked Kumaraswamy, who claimed that the media intensified the demand for a separate state. Eventually, the bandh was called off a day before it was scheduled to happen.

But the first signs of Kumaraswamy's indifference towards the media, especially the television channels, had appeared barely two months into his tenure as the Chief Minister.

Read: K'taka CM lashes out at media for holding debates on North Karnataka state demand

Around the same time, Kumaraswamy suggested that a separate room would be allocated to journalists to interact with the ministers at Vidhana Soudha. This was interpreted by sections of the media as a gag order to safeguard his ministers from being asked uncomfortable questions.

Kumaraswamy has also repeatedly complained that his statements have been misquoted and misrepresented by the media. In press conferences, he has often blamed the media of conspiring against him and portraying him in a bad light.

Another flashpoint occurred on October 25 when Kumaraswamy, while addressing reporters at the Vidhana Soudha, vented his ire against the media for reporting that the Chief Minister has ordered load-shedding in Gulbarga. Pointing towards a band-aid applied on his right hand, he said, "Look at this (band-aid). This is because of the stress your news is causing me. Without verifying the order with the department, a Kannada news channel announced that I am pushing the state towards darkness," he said pointing his finger at a Kannada journalist, who raised a query.

He further probed the journalist to produce a government document proving that the state government had ordered load shedding and also asked media personnel to learn Kannada before trying to interpret government orders. "Instead of trying to damage my government's work, you should learn Kannada and not publish anything that pleases you," he added.

A week ago, Kumaraswamy's disagreements with the media came to the fore once again, this time when he appeared to dismiss Jayashree Gurannavar, a woman farmer leader who questioned him about the protests raised by sugarcane farmers in the state earlier this week. The media highlighted Kumaraswamy's indifference to the plight of farmers and accused him of disrespecting the woman who asked the question.

On Sunday, speaking on the issue at the University of Agriculture Sciences in Bengaluru, Kumaraswamy said, "What I meant was why have you woken up to the situation now? Were you sleeping? I would never disrespect women. These are not farmers who are protesting but these are sponsored protests.” He further raised question marks over the protesting farmers and described them as 'goondas'.

Kumaraswamy's comment was criticised by farmer leaders and the opposition BJP. This led to Kumaraswamy softening his stance on Monday. “I was hurt when some comments were made about me during the Belagavi protest. But my reaction did not have any mala fide intention. It’s unfortunate that my words were not understood in the way I meant it,” Kumaraswamy told reporters.

Read: Calling farmers 'goons' was not meant in bad faith, Karnataka CM Kumaraswamy says

Later in the week, Kumaraswamy once again expressed his disdain for the media's coverage of the issue by claiming that he was being singled out. He also reprimanded the television media for showing visuals of a group of farmers beating an effigy of him with an axe. "I want to ask the TV media what was the meaning of repeatedly showing an effigy of mine being beaten by farmers using an axe in Mudhol? What impact did you think this would have on the people?" he asked in a tone familiar to most journalists reporting from Bengaluru over the last few months.

Kumaraswamy has made no attempts to hide his displeasure with the media, particularly television channels, in his first six months as Chief Minister. He believes that the media has been unfair to him and has distanced himself from the press on a number of occasions.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!

You can also support us with a one-time payment.

Rs 200Rs 500Rs 1500Custom