Do not encourage reporters to sit idle in your office and gossip, keep a tab on new followers and keep an eye on their profiles, maintain a database of social media users who understand the ideology and philosophy of the BJP — these are among the dos and don’ts issued by the BJP for personal assistants and private secretaries of party MPs and MLAs.
With elections at the doorstep, the BJP has drawn up hectic schedules of training programmes for associates of its public figures in order to avoid any embarrassment. A two-day training programme for the personal staff of all party MPs and MLAs from across the country is being conducted on Thursday and Friday in the national capital.
A 65-page book of guidelines — that will be released during the training programme — has instructions and advice on organising tours, constituency work, usage of funds for MPs and MLAs, financial management and personal development, as well as tips for handling complaints from the voters and the public.
The guidebook, issued by the training department of the BJP, contains the ideological and historical background of the party, details about the BJP government’s welfare schemes, external and internal threats to the party and a brief description on economic policies of the government.
In its prologue to the chapter on media/social media engagement, the party reminds the personal assistants and secretaries that they “have a very important duty to ensure that the media always gets a favourable image of your office. Your senior would be often too busy to deal with all the nitty-gritty of the daily media calls, requirements etc and focus on the finer details of the media,” it says, adding that they were the “face of the office and the bridge between your office, the functionary, the media person and the public”.
It asks the personal staff to handle media personnel with courtesy and care. It advises them to “Always keep the journalists in good humour and maintain a friendly and welcoming tone”, “Don’t keep them waiting for too long”, “Remember that a PA/PS is not authorised to talk with the media but only coordinate and maintain a good relation with your office”, and “As a PA/PS, you never pass on an official/unofficial comment or information to any media person on your own”.
The training programmes are expected to usher in a change on the social media space used by BJP leaders. “Ensure that you don’t unnecessarily tag people and pages in official posts while posting content from the official/functionaries social media handles,” the guidebook says.
With the party focusing on ideological training, it says: “Maintain a database of such social media users/ leaders who understand the ideology and philosophy of BJP and manage and maintain their own popular pages/social media handles, web portals etc. The database should have their mobiles, email, social media handles, WhatsApp numbers, website etc…”
It concludes with a warning: “You should remember that BJP is not a party like any other party. We have a well-defined ideology, a vast cadre base, a specific working style and programme to lead the country to a glorious future. Your actions should reflect that we are a party with a difference.”