Row over ‘cash gifts’ from Karnataka CMO to journalists

Special envelopes with Rs 1 lakh in cash allegedly sent on Diwali

Chief Minister of karnataka Basavaraj Bommai (Photo: HansIndia)

A major controversy has erupted in Karnataka over an alleged cash dole-out of Rs 1 lakh from the chief minister Basavaraj Bommai’s office to select journalists on Diwali, with the opposition launching a scathing attack on the government and an anti-corruption NGO filing a complaint.

Generally, the CM office sends a box of sweets or dry fruits as a token during the festival. But this time, a special envelope with Rs 1 lakh in cash allegedly landed with some select journalists who covered politics, media reports said.

The News Minute reported that Deepawali hampers ranging from Rs 1 lakh to 3 lakh were sent. Three journalists confirmed to the website that cash was distributed, and said they had given it back to the CM’s office, the website said.

The cash gifts drew sharp reactions from journalists, some of whom wrote to the CM office. Some media reports quoted CMO sources as saying that Bommai was unaware of the development and later apologized to the editors.

The move snowballed into a row with the Janaadhikaara Sangharsha Parishath (JSP), an anti-corruption NGO, filing a complaint with the Lokayukta. The JSP sought a criminal case against the chief minister and his media coordinator.

In a letter addressed to the Karnataka Lokayukta, JSP co-president Adarsh Iyer said the cash as Diwali gifts amounted to serious allegations of bribery to hush up various allegations being published and broadcast against the government.

Raking up the issue, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) sought a detailed inquiry into the matter. “What is the source of the money? How many bribes have been paid? How many received bribes? How many (journalists) returned?” the state Congress unit tweeted.

Senior Congress leader and Karnataka in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Enforcement Directorate and the income tax department should take note of the matter.

He tweeted, “The #40PercentSarkar seeks to bribe the journalists with ? 1 Lakh cash! Will Mr. Bommai answer- 1. Isn’t it a “bribe” being offered by the CM? 2. What is the source of ?1,00,000? Has it come from Public Exchequer or from the CM himself? 3. Will ED/IT take note?”.

The Karnataka BJP countered the allegations. “The Congress has been shooting in the dark and making false accusations. The Congress seems to have forgotten that their leader DK Shivakumar had given away iPhones which became big news across the state.”

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here