They had worn black badge to protest against Prakash Mehta for behaving in an uncivilised manner with them.
Journalists’ fraternity strongly condemned the Maharashtra Housing Minister Prakash Mehta for his misbehaviour with a television journalist. They urged the state government to take stringent action against Mehta and demanded an apology from him. The association also said that the government should draft a code of conduct for legislators as they are representatives of the people. Members of Bombay News Photographers Association had worn black badge to protest against Mehta for behaving in an uncivilised manner with them.
Prakash Mehta had visited the site at Mahad where the bridge had collapsed but instead of taking stock of the situation he was busy clicking selfies. When some media persons questioned him on the matter and also the fact that he reportedly learnt of the tragedy after nearly nine hours, Mehta lost his cool and hurled abuses at a television channel reporter. He alleged that the reporters were raising non-issues for the sake of TRPs and that he will solve his department’s problems on his own. His supporters later also allegedly heckled the TV reporter. Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade on Friday sought a clarification from Prakash Mehta.
While the media called for a boycott of Mehta, opposition Congress leaders like Vijay Wadettiwar and Abdul Sattar demanded his resignation for clicking a selfie when rescue operations were in full swing to locate two missing buses, other vehicles and their occupants.
An official from Mumbai Press Club said, “Such type of unruly behaviour is not expected from a legislator like Prakash Mehta. The government must take action against him.”
Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who raised the issue in the Lower House, said the government should apologise for Mehta’s alleged rude behaviour with the journalist. He said, “When Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was briefing the media about the steps taken by the government to speed up relief work in Mahad, Prakash Mehta was seen clicking selfies. The video footage of this incident has gone viral on social media. Mehta’s behaviour only shows that the government is least bothered about the problems faced by common man.”
“The incidence happened at Mahad where a TV journalist and Prakash Mehta had some hot exchange of words is unfortunate. However the journalist had visited the site to take stock of the situation and not as a political correspondent, we believe. His statement, “people are angry with you as guardian minister” was out of context, unwarranted and uncalled for,” said Avadhut Wagh, Maharashtra BJP spokesperson.
“Understanding the seriousness of the tragic situation, journalists should also refrain from asking such political and biased questions. They are nonetheless free to ask any information about the incident which will be provided promptly,” he added.
Initially, some 50 men and women stood surrounding Mehta as he patiently took questions. However, local residents and relatives were unhappy with the slow pace of rehabilitation and relief work. Mehta informed them that the government has ordered a probe for ascertaining the cause of the bridge collapse.
“Where are the rest of the ministers? What are you doing as guardian minister?” demanded one man. Later Mehta lost his cool and there was heated arguments between him and TV journalists.
At least two buses with 22 people and four to five private vehicles were washed away early on Wednesday in floodwaters after a British-era bridge collapsed on the Mumbai-Goa highway.
Prakash Mehta said, “Since there was immense work pressure on me hence I lost my cool while interacting with TV journalists. Since last few years I have been actively involved in social work and I have immense respect for the fourth estate. If I have committed any mistake, then I apologise for the same.”