The present regime has been avoiding private media and is instead focusing on Doordarshan. In fact, it seems to be a return to the old days when DD was the favoured one and sometimes the only news medium allowed at functions attended by the prime minister. These days, even ANI TV, DD’s usual rival, is missing from the PM’s programmes. When External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Bangladesh recently, only official and semi-official media were part of the accompanying press party. Similarly, private media was not permitted to fly with Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to Moscow for the World Petroleum Conference. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar didn’t take journalists with him to Nairobi for the World Climate Conference, reportedly on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s instructions. Modi did not invite journalists on his trip to Bhutan though his plane was flying half-empty. So far, the PMO has not asked the private media to fly with the Prime Minister to the BRICS summit in Brazil beginning July 14.
Mega park for Kashi
Modi has ambitious plans for his Varanasi constituency. He wants to set up a special amusement park. But this will be no Disneyland for children. Instead, it will showcase the art and culture of the different states of India. Modi is paying special attention to not just his constituency but to the entire state of Uttar Pradesh which played a big role in his party’s victory in the recent parliamentary election. P K Mishra, additional principal secretary in the PMO, has been designated as the point-person for all requests from MPs and MLAs for development projects in the state.
The Election Commission presided over by CEC V S Sampath met earlier this week. One of the issues discussed was the culpability of former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan in the paid news scam. Chavan is accused of omitting from his declared election expenses the money he paid to certain newspapers for carrying flattering write-ups about himself during the last Assembly elections. But there was no unanimity in the Commission about whether Chavan, now an MP, could be disqualified for allegedly violating the law.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius held a press conference for the Indian media during his visit last week. While winding up his conference, Fabius announced that he had a surprise for the journalists. He introduced a French businessman who had invented an iPhone app which, he said, would be of use to Indian tourists visiting France. The application translates Hindi into French, and has information on tourist sites and other useful data. The Ministry of External Affairs was taken aback that the French minister was blatantly plugging for a private corporation. In India, a minister speaking on behalf of a private entrepreneur would continued…