Journos offered money in MP press meet; Opposition flays Govt

Puri: An unpleasant situation prevailed at a city hotel here after the media persons invited to cover the joint press meet of Puri MP Pinaki Mishra and local MLA Maheswar Mohanty found cash inside their respective media kits distributed among them.

The journalists alleged that they were offered cash of Rs 200 each which they found inside their media folders along with other documents meant for press circulation.

“When I opened my folder, to my utter surprise I found two bank notes of one hundred denomination in it. At first I thought it could be inadvertently placed by the organisers. But when others present there too found the same, we were all horrified to see this. Of course, it was a deliberate attempt to degrade us.

What sort of behavior is this? Are we here to be purchased by the organizers?” asked a reporter of a local media.

The view was echoed by other media fellows present in the occasion.

“How dare they (organizers) behave like this? Do they think we are the same what they are,” gusted another electronic media reporter.

“It’s a sheer disrespect to the whole media industry,” he added.

Finding the situation out of control, Mishra suddenly stepped in to pacify the invitees. He too requested the media persons to stay calm.

“I sincerely apologize for the whole episode and condemn it. I am yet to go through what exactly has happened. Definitely stern action will be taken against the guilty,” a visibly nervous Mishra said.

Meanwhile, the incident supplied enough fodder to both Congress and the BJP who left no stone unturned to criticise the organizers for such a “shameful” act.

“It is an insult to the fourth pillar of democracy. And how come they behave like this? It is shameful that such an incident happened in the presence of an MP as well as senior leader of the ruling party, and a former minister. They must be held responsible for this.

Do they think the media people are saleable objects,” questioned BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari.

Narashinga Misha of Congress said, “I strongly condemn the incident. They (organisers) must know first how to interact with the media and an unconditional apology must be tendered.”

However, BJD spokesperson Sameer Dash to save party’s face promptly said that there was no involvement of the lawmakers present in the occasion in today’s incident.

“The whole episode must be investigated,” he quipped.