Arun Jaitley takes a dig at ‘compulsive contrarians’


India, All India

The minister said those in public life have to use alternative modes to communicate directly with people.

Union Minister Arun Jaitley (Photo: File)

New Delhi: Taking a dig at the “compulsive contrarians” (PM Narendra Modi’s critics) for “discovering” a “new Balakote” within the Indian territory without checking facts, Union minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said some news channels are increasingly resorting to “agenda setting” instead of reporting.

Mr Jaitley, who was speaking at the release of the book titled Mann Ki Baat - A Social Revolution on Radio’ based on the Prime Minister’s monthly radio broadcast, said the programme has a “strong power of recall,” which leaves “deep footprints in the minds of its listeners.”

IAF fighter jets led non-military pre-emptive air strikes across the LoC at terror camps in Balakot on February 26 after Pakistan based JeM carried out a suicide attack. “When our Air Force reached Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, before one could gather any information someone started saying it is very close to the LoC,” Mr Jaitley said. “And some people whom I call compulsive contrarians discovered a new Balakote without even checking that, that particular Balakote is not across the LOC but in our own Poonch. Why will our own Air Force attack our own territory,” Mr Jaitley said. The minister said those in public life have to use alternative modes to communicate directly with people.     

Mr Jaitley said that from the mid-90s private television channels started they had panel discussions, news bulletins and thereafter “the competition which began (amongst them) has a very small universe, that now setting the agenda is our job.”

“The conventional role of the media was to report and present views on the editorial page, but (now) we will not report the country’s agenda but set it,” said the Union minister. He said since this journey began one has to search with a remote for news while the agenda is everywhere.

“I recall when Prime Minister Narendra Modi became chief minister of Gujarat in 2001, there were (state) polls in 2002 and at the time the local media and national media was not exactly a friend of his. It was very aggressive against him...I was looking after those elections on behalf of my party (BJP). Even at that time the strategy was that when there is agenda setting instead of reporting, you cannot communicate with people through this medium,” said the minister.

Stressing that the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme has a strong power of recall which leaves deep footprints in the minds of its listeners, Mr Jaitley also highlighted the power of radio, its impact as a source of both news and entertainment, its huge geographical reach and as a mode of learning language.