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Media: The only saviour

Published : Feb 1, 2016, 12:43 am IST
Updated : Feb 1, 2016, 12:43 am IST

The great comeback

The great comeback

The six-year expulsion term of former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, which ended on his birthday on January 27, has left several senior party leaders wondering on his next move.

A day before his expulsion period ended, Mr Singh spent over two hours with chief minister Akhilesh Yadav at the latter’s residence in Lucknow.

When mediapersons enquired about the purpose of the visit and his next move, Mr Singh indignantly said that his visit was purely personal and had no politics involved.

Mr Singh said that his relations with the Yadavs were beyond politics. Also, he was aware that “some people” in the party did not want him back in action.

Meanwhile, Mr Singh’s detractors in the party — and there are some important ones too — are waiting with bated breath for his next move.

If the grapevine is to be believed, one of the senior leaders may even walk out of the party if Mr Singh makes a formal comeback.

However, a member of the Yadav clan remarked, “I do not know why you (media) people cannot see that Mr Singh is already back. This is a political party and not a corporate office where you have to give a joining letter.”

Meanwhile, the Samajwadis’ wait for a formal announcement continues.

Pradhan’s Catch-22 Union petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan expected he would score a double against the Biju Janata Dal government in Orissa by bringing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the state for inauguration of Indian Oil Corporation’s mega Rs 35,000 crore Paradip Refinery on February 7.

The successful completion of the event would have established his credentials as the unchallenged leader of the BJP and he could have been posited as the bête noire of chief minister Naveen Patnaik. He could also have claimed credit for the fruition of the Rs 35,000 crore refinery project.

However, a sudden turn of events put a spanner in the works. On January 9, Mr Pradhan attended a blood donation camp organised by Metaphor Trans-Corporation director Sushil Kumar Dhal Samanta and his brother Sushant Dhal Samanta, who were arrested on Friday on charges of murder, extortion and tender fixing.

All hell broke loose when the police announced that the Samanta brothers were arrested and nearly Rs 2.5 crore and over half-a-dozen fire arms, including those used by the Indian Army, were seized from their residences in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

Mr Pradhan is now busy clarifying his position on why he attended the function organised by the Samanta brothers.

Changing times While it is common knowledge that ever since the National Democratic Alliance government came to power, several Cabinet ministers have kept their distance from the media. In fact, a couple of “hyper sensitive” ministers even got CCTV cameras installed in their respective ministries to keep off “unwanted persons” (read nosey mediapersons).

However, a couple of years down the line, the initial hawkish attitude seems to have given way to a more media-friendly attitude, what with the ministers having received directives from the top to spread the message of the government’s good work. What better tool to do so than using the services of the media.

Therefore, it was not surprising when recently a minister in-charge of a key ministry was quite fervently trying to get in touch with a media baron. Sources in the corridors of power said that mantriji’s office staff was repeatedly trying to contact this particular media baron. However, as the gentleman in question was out of reach, his staff politely informed the minister’s staff that their boss is not available, but will get in touch with his office as soon as possible.

Quite an amusing turn of events, considering the fact that normally it is the poor journalist who is seen leaving messages at ministers’ offices to get vital inputs for a story or to get that elusive quote. How times change, one must say!

Real test of AAP Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who used to swear by public opinion for every minor and major issue, tends to get selectively amnesiac about it when it comes to implementing decisions. The odd-even formula for Delhi roads was one such example. The decision, with various kinds of exemptions, was implemented for an experimental 15 days. This was done without taking any public opinion on record.

Now, mulling over the next phase of the “odd-even” formula, Mr Kejriwal wants to take a cue from the people by listening to their opinions. This has, of course, given the Opposition an argument to tackle what Mr Kejriwal claimed to be a great success. “Now, the Delhi chief minister is bound to seek public opinion over the issue. The second phase of the scheme will decide its fate because the state government will have to withdraw certain exemptions. This will be the real test of the government as well as its public transport system,” said a senior Delhi Congress leader.

Will the AAP pass this test with flying colours Let’s wait and watch.

Deals & discounts The failure of India and France to agree on the cost of the proposed multi-billion dollar deal for the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft brought forth certain interesting, but contrasting, opinions from journalists of both countries.

Recently at Hyderabad House, journalists from India and France exchanged notes ahead of the signing of various agreements between the two countries in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President François Hollande. During the informal interaction between the journalists ahead of the function, one Indian journalist remarked that French defence deals are always prohibitively expensive for India. It was a comment that did not go down well with a French journalist who retorted, “But then every defence deal is expensive for India since Indians always want discounts.” Amid much amusement, the two journalists agreed to disagree.

CM SAHEB SO WHAT A bizarre “drama” played out at a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh meet in Raipur on January 21, when the saffron security guards refused entry to Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh’s vehicle at the venue due to “security reasons”.

Mr Singh arrived at Jagruti Bhavan, headquarters of the Chhattisgarh unit of the RSS at Raipur, on a “courtesy visit” to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who was in the city to chair a three-day meet of Sangh members of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

But the Sangh members, in charge of the security of the venue, sprang into action, standing guard at the entry gate.

Alerted by the unexpected turn of events, Mr Singh’s security guards too jumped off their vehicles.

“Chief minister Saheb hai.” Please allow his vehicle into the venue, the security guards insisted even as a smiling Mr Singh was seen thoroughly enjoying the “drama” while sitting in his vehicle.

“Chief minister Saheb ” So what the saffron soldiers were heard replying to the chief minister’s security guards while refusing to yield.

Unfazed, Mr Singh disembarked from his vehicle and proceeded on foot to meet Mr Bhagwat.

All for publicity Bandaru Dattatreya had long been miffed with the Press Information Bureau (PIB) officials for lack of publicity for his good “work” in the ministry of labour. He would question why he was not getting media coverage despite “lots of work being done by him”.

The PIB officials would invariably plead with the mediapersons but they were of no avail. At last, Mr Dattatreya got his due in media coverage, as he prominently featured following the suicide by Hyderabad University student Rohith Vemula. He not only featured in the media, but has been on placards brought by students agitating after Rohith’s suicide. Hopefully, the PIB officials can relax for a while.

Top cop in trouble While men in khaki are duty-bound to protect women in distress, a senior police officer has been accused by a victim of calling her at odd hours in the national capital. Soon after the victim lodged a complaint against the officer, a guessing game started at the Delhi police headquarters as to who could be the culprit. Preliminary reports suggested that the officer had not only been calling the complainant, he had also been telephoning other women victims and lady journos at odd hours. As of now, it is a wait-and-watch situation at the headquarters till top cops decide on the line of action against their own officer.

Blame it on media When petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan was asked about the Modi government not fully passing benefits of low international crude oil prices to people by hiking excise duty eight times on petrol and diesel, he blamed the media for trying to sensationalise the issue.

Mr Pradhan said that the media is always in search of headlines. He went on to claim that no where in the country people are complaining about petrol and diesel prices.

“I keep moving around the country. Problem is you people think Delhi is India and you don’t know what happens outside Delhi,” said the minister. Well, this is called shooting the messenger.

An honest CM Politicians in our country have been notorious for not taking a break and trying to show themselves off as the hardest working people around. This mentality is often been blamed to have arisen due to their need to be seen close to the working class. While the entire political fraternity is busy trying to portray an image of remaining flooded with work, there has been a whiff of freshness in the way Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has been conducting himself.

Mr Kejriwal has taken off for Bengaluru for a 10-day sabbatical, ostensibly for treatment of his chronic cough. Though Mr Kejriwal has come under repeated attacks form the Opposition over his 10-day break, he seems to be honest enough in letting the citizens know where and why he has taken a break. The same cannot be said for many top politicians who pride themselves at the level of secrecy being maintained regarding their breaks from public life.

Team Shah With Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah getting a fresh term, many BJP leaders have started reaching the national capital and making it a point to visit the party headquarters at 11, Ashoka Road. The buzz is that Mr Shah will prefer leading the party along with a new team as the old team is also being blamed for the party’s disastrous performance in the Delhi and Bihar Assembly elections.

Many key states will be going to polls this year as well as next year. Some of those visiting the BJP headquarters are lobbying in the hope that they could make it to Team Shah.