Monday, December 28, 2015

All good for journos in Shivraj's raj

The Madhya Pradesh government doled out Rs 93 crores in the last 4 year in giving advertisements to 'unknown' news websites and news channel. The government has also given Rs 58 crores to 107 institutions for 'regional publicity' of the government.

This information was shared by the Madhya Pradesh public relation minister Rajendra Shukla in the state assembly in response to a question raised by Congress MLA Bala Bachchan.

Bachchan, in his query has asked the government to share the details of websites, institutions  and news channel who have got government advertisement for publicizing government work since 2012.

Out of the 235 plus websites that were given the government ad, only 25 to 30 websites are those which disseminate news regularly and see a regular ‘hits’ and traffic. Many of the websites mentioned in the reply provided by the state government, are  websites whose existence was not known to even the local Bhopal based journalists, whom I spoke to.  

“Most of these websites are run by journalists who are working in other organizations. Since it is illegal to earn income from two source, these journalists are running the websites in the name of their relatives and wives. The government with an intent to keep them in good humor and oblige them, has readily released government ads to their websites, which do not see even 10 hits in a day”, a Bhopal based bureau chief of a national English daily, pointing to the name of the website that is owned by a wife of journalist of a national news agency, said.

A careful perusal of the list revealed that the registered address of many of these websites was government flats and bungalows that are allotted to journalists if the are a part of a national daily. “ A journalist of the largest selling English daily is no longer a part of that newspaper, but he continues to enjoy the government hospitality by way of the government ad that his websites receives and the government bungalow that he continues to live in.  Similarly, a former employee of  an English news agency continues to enjoy the bungalow as he is still a journalist in the technical term because he is running a website that got Rs 15 lakh ”, an official with the Directorate of Public Relations (DPR) stated. As per previous rules, the government bungalows can only be allotted to those journalists who are working for national newspaper.

While choosing firms for ‘regional advertisement’ of government work, the DPR released Rs 21 crores to an agency that is known to be run by a BJP functionary.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why Modi must act

The political honeymoon period of BJP got over earlier than it would have expected and the marital discords that a political party faces after coming to power have started even sooner than it might ha
ve anticipated.

The historic mandate it received in the general elections last year, as a majority of us will agree, was made possible because of Narendra Modi. Modi the individual was the reason that people voted for BJP rather than the other way around.

So if the public perception is that the ‘Ache din’ have come then one has to attribute it to Modi and if the perception is that there is no change from the days of the UPA  then the responsibility for that also squarely lies on the shoulder of Modi.

History is made every day, to be presented years in the future after it is created. Ten-fifteen  years from now, pages of  history will tell us that whatever happened to this country, the good or the bad as it will turn out, was because of Modi. No one will remember the finance minister, the defence minister, the external affairs ministers or the various BJP spokespersons.

In light of these ground rules, that one can tend to disagree with, the inaction on the part of Modi to take ‘notice’ of the act done by Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, is surprising. More so because in case of Modi, unlike his predecessor, his act of taking notice of something is very much visible and more often than not, it makes news. In this case, it his inaction that is grabbing the headlines.

The BJP can field their best spokespersons to counter the allegations but can the truth that Swawraj was dealing with a fugitive be changed? Can the fact that her daughter and her husband were dealing with him change? Can it be safely said that the external affairs minister of the country, one of the top four ministers of the country , was unaware of the legal status of Lalit Modi? That he was ‘wanted’? Are ‘humanitarian  grounds’ a sound excuse to help a fugitive , that too without keeping others in the loop? And was ‘different shades of blue’ supposed to be a funny?

Similarly, no one, even Vasundhara Raje, will not and has not denied that Lalit Modi was a close friend of hers. People make friends, who later turn into acquaintances and foes and that is perfectly okay. However how can Raje, in her position as the leader of opposition in the Rajasthan assembly, do something that she knew was illegal? In her case, it is evident that she knew that what she was doing was wrong and that is why she asked for a disclaimer that the action taken by her in support of Lalit Modi should not come out in open.
How will she defend the fact that the shares of her son’s company were bought by Lalit Modi at Rs 11 crore? She cannot.

Inevitably,  Narendra Modi in times to come, will face many more such instances of impropriety from his cabinet colleagues, his party colleagues and his friends. For him, the easy way of coming out from such situation will be to close his eye and move ahead till the story dies down and is forgotten from the memory of the people and this is what the Congress led UPA did. And that is what the BJP is hoping will happen in the case of Swaraj and Raje.

The not so easier route for Narendra Modi is to act on these acts of impropriety.

The people of this country have for long lived in an era where things were said but not executed. So much so that the political promises and commitments are no longer taken seriously, let alone give rise to any hope. When Narendra Modi, during his political campaign, stated that there will be no corruption in his government, not many believed that but when he said that he will take action, quick and strict, against anyone found to be indulging in corruption, everyone believed it.

The time to put those words of promises into action has come. And with every passing day of the promises being reneged, the hopes and expectations of those who reposed faith in him will decrease, slowly,gradually but surely.

There have been many Prime Ministers before Modi and there will numerous after him. The path to creating a legacy and securing a name in the pages of history, as each of us wants, is well defined but whether we are willing to walk on that path is something that only we have to decide.


Sunday, February 08, 2015

Why the Aam Aadmi went for the party.

Almost all the exit polls have predicted a comfortable win for the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi elections, and for those who believe them, the Modi-Shah magic is likely to fail in mini-India when the results are announced on February 10.
Assuming that the results will be on the line of the exit polls, the question is what happened? Why did the same people who had voted overwhelmingly for the BJP in the last year’s general election voted for AAP this time?

It will not be an exaggeration to say that the Delhi BJP took the elections ‘lightly’. Their campaign started a long time after AAP, its chief political enemy, had begun its. AAP had already secured a sizeable space in the minds and heart of the voters through the virtually nonstop radio jingles, white Nehru cap and smiling volunteers who had come on the street and started ‘mohalla’ campaigning as early as October, by the time BJP decided to rock and roll. The inclination to open the doors for a neighbor, who has been around for sometime rather than someone who has just arrived, is more. 

The local Delhi leaders were banking heavily on the ‘Modi magic’ to counter the AAP’s outreach that had spread on the ground through its loyal cadre. BJP leaders with whom I was speaking to, in the run up to the election, had no hesitation in agreeing that AAP was in a much stronger position but in the same breath they told me that 3 to 4 rallies of Modi would blow away everything that was remotely connected to AAP.  The rallies did happen, but by then, the AAP had strongly entrenched itself to be blown away.

The BJP forgot that in the Lok Sabha elections, the support for Modi was more or less equal to the anger the people had against the ‘corrupt-inefficient-weak’ Congress government. The voters at that time had to decide between the rookie AAP, that was not a national force, and the resurgent BJP led by the macho Modi. They took the logical decision. However in the Delhi elections, it was not about anger, it was more about the perception about the new union government. The question in mind was has the Modi government done enough in the last 8 months it has been in power? BJP leaders say that much has been done by the new government and if that is the case, then they should also agree that despite the media blitzkrieg, the BJP was not able to convey this message to the voters. Some BJP leaders will defend the result of Delhi assembly election by stating that it does not reflect upon the working of the central government. I am sorry, it does.

The BJP overplayed the alleged 'anarchist' tendency of  AAP. When did being a 'krantikari' became a taboo in this country? Acting 'rebellious', questioning the establishment, the status-quo, tilting towards anarchism has been the hallmark of Indians, since time immemorial. Kejriwal might have taken some wrong steps during his 49 days as CM but the way BJP tried to sell his 'anarchism' clearly did not work.

During the 49 days the AAP was in power, they managed to gain the trust of the lower income group. And even though a section of the middle-class grew disenchanted with AAP, these loyal supporters, from the auto-rickshaw drivers to the house-maid, remained loyal and the party was able to cash-in their goodwill in this election.

The BJP party needs to introspect on why it did not call for a fresh poll when Kejriwal, the ‘Bhagoda’ resigned suddenly. A majority of the the voters who had supported him had now become angry with him and wanted to teach him a lesson for not valuing the people’s mandate. The BJP was on ‘high’ at that time with Modi being virtually the messenger of god (no pun intended) that India was waiting for. However for some ‘god-only-knows’ reason, the party decided to wait and watch. Whoever advised the party to not to go for elections needs to be hanged by the strongest rope from the highest tree. His advice seems to have cost Delhi. The party needs to identify these Jaychands and Vibhishans.

In the last leg of the campaigning, negative connotation crept into the picture. Calling names, printing of not- so-soul-enriching advertisements targeting AAP and Kejriwal were bombarded on the same Delhi voters, who not too long ago, inspired by Modi, had voted for BJP for ‘positive campaigning’ and ‘good governance’ and in the process elected many non-existent political entity from Delhi. Party strategists should understand that contrary to the vile in social media, the general public of this country still lives by the century old adage- ‘Pyar se maango, jaan de denge”.

The paratrooping of Kiran Bedi, the woman who till the polling day, was not able to shake off her narcissism, proved to be proverbial final straw that broke the BJP’s back.  “The main- main, “mainey yeh kiya, mainey woh kiya, mai yeh karungi, mai woh karungi”, did not go down too well with the Delhi voters. Compare her with Harshvardan, the former BJP CM candidate. Harvardhan, the humble doctor, modest family man, camera shy, always smiling politician. The man who for years now has been the common Aadmi of Delhi BJP.  Bedi, the moment she joined the BJP, played the match as if it was about her and not the BJP. Antagonizing the cadre and largely ignoring them, she gave a message that she has been hand-picked by Modi himself, which might not have been the case. 

Finally, people will read too much into this electoral result and portray it as the election where the Modi halo was breached. But the point is in a democracy, elections are won and lost. That is what the will of people is, always oscillating, never staying still. Bihar, where the next electoral battle will be played out, may give a totally different picture. A BJP win or loss, whatever happens in the end, should not lie squarely on the shoulders of Modi. The blame or the accolades, as the case maybe, should be shared by everyone, from the party cadre to the union ministers and by the PM himself.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...