In an exclusive interview with Republic TV, Vishwavani editor Vishweshwar Bhat, on Tuesday, has reaffirmed his objectivity saying that he bore no ill-intentions while carrying the article with alleged derogatory remarks about Karnataka CM Kumaraswamy's son - Nikhil Gowda.
"The very next day after the article was published the Chief Minister called me and told me his version of the story. I also carried his statement on the very next day on Sunday. Even Nikhil Kumaraswamy called me and explained his version which I carried verbatim in my paper. This shows that I do not have any political vendetta against him (Nikhil or Kumaraswamy)," he said.
Standing by the authenticity of his article in which he had alleged that Nikhil Kumaraswamy had gone on a rampage against his grandfather and JD(S) chief H D Deve Gowda after his Mandya Lok Sabha loss, Bhat has said that he was sure of the facts and condemned the FIR filed against him for carrying the article inspite of carrying subsequent statements of both Kumaraswamy and Nikhil.
"We filed the story based on sources which are sacrosanct. It is not an opinionated piece. It is based on facts. I ascertained all the facts before filing the news story. Hence I condemn the high handedness of the Karnataka police for filing this FIR against me," he added.
Bhat who is a practising journalist for 32 years and an editor for 19 years, blamed the Karnataka state government for stifling Karnataka press' freedom by filing an FIR against for criminal defamation.
"This story was published two days after the election results were announced hence I do not have any ill-intentions against them. The state government seems to have a grudge against this article and they wish to browbeat the freedom of the press in Karnataka," he said.
The article in question was published on Saturday in which Bhat had alleged that Nikhil Kumaraswamy had gone on a rampage against his grandfather and JD(S) chief H D Deve Gowda after his Mandya Lok Sabha loss to late Kannada superstar Ambareesh's wife Sumalatha Ambareesh who contested as an independent by a margin of 1,25,876 votes.
The article also alleged that Nikhil was unhappy that the family party had not done enough to ensure his victory at the beginning of his political career. It also alleged that Nikhil had indulged in violence at a 5-star hotel in Mysuru.
Following the release of the article, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy rushed to his son's aide rubbishing the report, citing it brought to attention the 'pain of being a father'.
(The news published on Nikhil Kumaraswamy today is an unrealistic and embarrassing story. The news which is killing Nikhil's reputation has brought the editor's attention to the pain of being a father. My request is that the media should not play with emotions through such lies)
Apart from posting on Twitter, the Chief Minister also doubled down on Bhat, as a complaint has been filed against Bhat for criminal breach of trust, criminal defamation, forgery, fraud, intentional insult to breach peace amongst others, according to sources.
Following this BJP leaders in the state including Karnataka BJP chief B.S Yeddyurappa have come out in support of Bhat calling the complaint a 'witch hunt.'
The Congress-JD(S) combination managed to win only 2 seats while the NDA swept 26 seats in the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.