The biggest shock to the media from the NDA led by Narendra Modi after it swept away the UPA into the Arabian Sea three months back comes from Modi himself.
All through the campaign for the historic 2014 Lok Sabha elections the media had been mesmerised by his persona. Allegations had been flying thick that the media had been bought over by the BJP but that could not have been the only reason for the massive mandate in terms of seats given to the party by the entire country. Its vote bank remains at only 31 per cent.
Had had these allegations stuck with the public those making these charges (comprising a galaxy of top glamorous and upright personalities who had joined the Aam Aadmi Party ) would have been ruling the country instead of those who were the targets of these attacks. That is just plain common sense.
But why and how the same party with the same person who had charmed the media with his daily dose of jokes on the family of the Shehzada become so cold to the same media that had helped him reach the pinnacle of power (at least partially) will remain the biggest mystery of this century!
Ever since Modi took oath in the last week of May as the Prime Minister reports had started trickling in that he was going to maintain his distance from the media. His first action was to stop the practice of carrying loads of journalist with him on foreign jaunts. And finally it became official that Modi had officially asked his ministers not to entertain the media.
The second master stroke of this modern day Chanakya which went unnoticed was that all the popular spokespersons of the party who had become friendly to the media such as Prakash Jadvekar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani, and Nirmala Sitharaman were inducted in the cabinet. They were thus under oath not to divulge anything to the world that was a state secret.
But now that 100 days of the Modi government are over the ministers are obliged to highlight that what they had done in three months the Congress could not do in 67 years. This could have been done through full page advertisements as was being done earlier. How many people read those ads or trust them is another issue.
However Modi changed the script of this campaign by asking his Ministers to hold press conferences to give a presentation of their achievements which are going on now. At times there are three press conferences in one day.
But journalists who thought they would be able to ask critical and embarrassing questions at these open invitations are learning the hard way that these get-togethers are a one-way traffic. Most of the time is taken up by the presentation and in the little time reserved for questions journalists are strictly told to ask specific questions related to the ministry and not to the minister.
At the end of the day journos return no wiser than they had gone, clutching the releases prepared by the PIB for which there was no need to hold a press conference in any case.
By: Amitabh Srivastava
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