No to media for Modi’s foreign tour

July 26 2014

The media that went into town chanting about Modi is in a frenzy of sorts. Modi has completed two foreign trips since he was sworn in and usually, the Prime Minister’s aircraft the A1 has a chance for 30 journalists to go on board with him. But no such luck this time and only the PTI, Doordarshan and the camera person of ANI were invited by Modi. In his tour to Brazil for the BRICS meeting, Modi took only a small group with him, which included Ajit Doval, Vikram Misri, Jagdish Thakkar, joint secretaries of the PMO and finance ministry, the spokesperson of foreign minister and a doctor. The PM gave his take on this to a journalist who covers the PMO and made it clear that he has no ill feeling for the media. He has done some research on the fact and said that the trend of having journalists accompany the PM on foreign tours started with Lal Bahadur Shastri; even Jawahar Lal Nehru, who was considered media friendly, would not take journalists with him for such tours. Modi believes that while Shastri’s decision for this was applicable during his times when the media was not so developed in India, it’s a changed world now and it’s about Twitter, WhatsApp, Google Plus, email and Facebook. Modi and PMO resort to Twitter to have their take heard. Where press conferences are concerned, Modi has made it clear that he will organize the same before and after he has returned from a foreign tour. In any case, the media group that goes with the prime minister is kept at a number three position – first comes the officials, then the delegates and then comes the media. The media group is given separate accommodation in a different hotel. Usually, it is the PMO and the foreign ministry that decides who will accompany the PM and his personal likes and dislikes are also kept into consideration. That is the reason that during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure, those who handled publications by the Sangh Parivar – Tarun Vijay, Kanchan Gupta and Shashadri Chari – would always accompany him. Modi wants a stop should be put to the trend of obliging a chosen few among the media. And even then it a media house wants to cover the prime minister’s tour, it can send a journalist and photojournalist at its own expense and the PMO will give all the information to them there.

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