Posts Tagged ‘PMO’

A ‘mile-high experience’ for the hack-pack

1 October 2013

20131001-093101 PM.jpg

A picture tweeted by the prime minister’s office (PMO) of the media scrum accompanying Manmohan Singh, as he answers questions in mid-air on his way back home after a five-day visit to the United States.

Among those identifiable, Raj Chengappa, editor-in-chief of The Tribune, Chandigarh (in suit, ahead of mikes); Jayanta Ghosal of Ananda Bazaar Patrika (behind him); Vijay Kumar Chopra, editor, Punjab Kesari (front row, aisle); and Mihir S. Sharma of Business Standard (third row, window seat).

In all, there were 34 newspaper, magazine and TV journalists on board.

Everybody loves writing about Pankaj Pachauri

9 January 2013

It is not often that the same piece of political gossip appears in three different newspapers in two different cities on more or less the same day. But in the snakepit of power that is the nation’s capital, it is all in a day’s work, especially if concerns the media advisor to the prime minister, Pankaj Pachauri.

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JANUARY 6

Diarist Nora Chopra in The Sunday Guardian:

All is not ‘theek hain‘ for PM adviser

Pankaj Pachauri is in major trouble. The communication adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had organised the telecast of Dr Singh’s infamous “theek hai” speech. Pachauri was even present during the recording. But if his colleagues in the Prime Minister’s Office are to be believed, he did not check the final version of the speech that was telecast, although it was his job to do so.

Earlier, the information and broadcasting ministry and the Press Information Bureau would check what would be telecast, but now it’s Pachauri alone who is responsible for it. Many in the UPA say that Pachauri should have been extra careful, particularly after the Prime Minister’s off-the-record comments on Bangladesh got uploaded on the PMO’s website. That incident ensured the ouster of Pachauri’s predecessor Harish Khare from the PMO.

Pachauri has been apparently asked to give an explanation on how the goof-up took place.

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JANUARY 6

The Telegraph Diary

Under watch

The lacklustre statement of the prime minister on television on the Delhi gang-rape case was followed by an even timid “theek hai”, but that has not stopped fingers from being pointed at Pankaj Pachauri, the PM’s communications advisor.

Pachauri is believed to be responsible for the telecast as well as the goof-up because he, reportedly, was present when the recording was done.

The Prime Minister’s Office now accuses him of clearing the final version of the recording without editing the last bit that has caused so much embarrassment to the PM. Now that there has been a slip, Pachauri is also being blamed for the previous fiasco that had the PM’s off-the-record comment on Bangladesh being uploaded on the PMO website.

The call for Pachauri’s head has grown louder with heads already rolling in Doordarshan. Incidentally, these are not those of the honchos. Most believe small fry have been sacrificed at the altar of the bigger ones. Any way, following the incident, the director-general of news at DD is now seen sitting in the newsroom monitoring the news personally. If you see the newsreader stuttering, you should know the reason.

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JANUARY 7

Grapevine in the Hindustan Times:

Getting his wires crossed

After Pankaj Pachauri‘s entry into the Prime Minister’s Office as communications adviser, the link between Prime Minister Manmohan  Singh and the information and broadcasting ministry had weakened. Pachauri kept the Press Information Bureau (PIB) – that had earlier bought two special audio recorders to crosscheck the PM’s speeches and remarks before their release – at bay.

He soon became the final authority as far as communications from the PMO were concerned. But after the recent ‘theek hai‘ goof up Pachauri seems to be in troubled waters. Also, the current information and broadcasting minister Manish Tiwari enjoys a far better rapport with the PM than his predecessor and meets Singh frequently.

Not quite theek hai here.

Brajesh Mishra, Outlook, Indian Express and DD

8 October 2012

The passing away of the former national security advisor and former foreign service officer Brajesh Mishra last week has resulted in a welter of tributes, many very mushy, a few critical, but almost all of them throwing light on the uncomfortable influence that the Vajpayee aide held over the media—and the chummy friendship that some in the media shared with the high official in the PMO.

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In his diary in Outlook*, Vinod Mehta recounts the role played by Mishra in ordering raids on the magazine’s proprietor after Outlook had exposed the wheeleing-dealing of Vajpayee’s “son-in-law” Ranjan Bhattacharya:

“I know one does not speak ill of the dead but try as hard as I might, I cannot think of anything nice or complimentary to say about Brajesh Mishra. All my exchanges with him were thoroughly unpleasant. Once after a few whiskies at vice-president Hamid Ansari’s house, he asked me why I had turned against Atal Behari Vajpayee.

“I responded by asking him why he had ordered the I-T raids on my proprietor’s residence in Mumbai and why he threatened me over the phone, denying a story given to us by the Vajpayee household, of how much Vajpayee disliked Arun Jaitley.”

In his National Interest column in the Indian Express, editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta writes:

“There was, however, one time when I saw him ruffled. And let me make a clean breast of it, even if it concerned The Indian Express. This was when the paper had carried a series of exposes embarrassing the Vajpayee government: the petrol pump scam, the scam on allotment of institutional lands to Sangh Parivar front organisations, and the Satyendra Dubey (the IIT engineer murdered while working for the NHAI by the mafia in Bihar) case.

“A top official in the State Bank of India, for decades this company’s bankers, told me — with a great deal of surprise and dismay — that he had got a call from “somebody” in the PMO to give the Express trouble. He said when he told the person the Express Group had “impeccably” clean accounts he was asked if he could somehow still give it grief. The banker was an old Express reader, loved the paper, and was aghast.

“I sought time with Vajpayee, and the tea had just been served when I said to him, “Suna hai, aajkal aap ne PMO se dadagiri shuru kar di hai.” I told him the story. And I must say Vajpayee looked genuinely shocked and swore he had not given any such instructions.

“Next day I was invited to Mishra’s office. “Arrey bhai, aisi baat thi toh… why didn’t you tell me first? Where was the need to go to boss? He has never pulled me up like this, and I am not used to it,” he said, now more rattled than annoyed. He promised that it was all “freelance” activity by a Sangh Parivar “busybody” who hung around in the PMO, “misusing” people’s phones, and that the “mischief” had been nipped.”

In his Sunday Sentiments column in the Hindustan Times, the TV anchor Karan Thapar writes of an interview he did with the Pakistani president Parvez Musharraf for Doordarshan six months after the Kargil war and three months after he had staged a coup, in the year 2000:

“When I got back from Islamabad I sent him a VHS of the interview. When I rang the next morning to ask what he thought of it he said he hadn’t seen it but his tone and manner suggested he had. What followed convinced me I was right.

“‘Have you told the press about this interview?’ he asked. The question surprised me because broadcast had not been cleared and I had no assurance it would be. Doordarshan, after all, is government controlled. ‘Yes, yes, I know that,’ Mr Mishra interrupted. ‘If I were you I’d let people know.’ Then, after a pause, he added sotto voce: ‘And tell them when it will be shown.’

“Now I was certain Mr Mishra was steering me. He was suggesting a strategy that would make it awkward, even difficult, to deny broadcast but without in anyway saying it would be cleared.

“Naturally, I followed his advice. PTI put out a small story that the interview would be broadcast the next day. The Indian Express front paged it. And then the drama began. A battle waged within the government over whether it should be shown. Various ministers — and the Army Chief — asked to see it. I assumed they all had a say in whether it would be cleared.

“At 7 in the evening I rang Mr Mishra. I could tell he was chuckling when he came on the line. ‘I know you’ve rung to ask if I’ve seen the interview. I haven’t but I’ll catch it tonight on TV.’”

* Disclosures apply

Photograph: courtesy Tribhuvan Tiwari/ Outlook

Media advisor is second highest-paid in PMO

29 June 2012

Life isn’t easy for a public servant in the age of transparency, when every little detail is open to scrutiny under the right to information (RTI).

Mail Today, the tabloid newspaper owned by the India Today group, carries a two-page story today on what the prime minister and his key men earn, and it turns out that the PM’s media advisor, Pankaj Pachauri, gets Rs 30,000 less than his master, Manmohan Singh (Rs 1.6 lakh per month).

In fact, with a monthly cheque for Rs 1.3 lakh, Pachauri is the second highest-paid employee in the 404-person PMO.

Even the man Pachauri reports to, principal secretary Pulok Chatterji (Rs 92,000), and the national advisor Shiv Shankar Menon (Rs 1.13 lakh per month), earn less than the PM’s media advisor.

(Update: Sanjay Kapoor, editor of Hard News, points out on Twitter that Muthu Kumar who reports to Pachauri gets more than his boss.)

The salaries of all the employees in the PMO, their total salary bill, the PMO’s budget for 2012-13, the travel details of officials besides the PM’s own salary have been posted on the PMO’s website, under section 4 of the RTI Act.

Image: courtesy Mail Today

Read the full article: What the PM and his men earn

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Also read: At 7, Race Course road, this is Pankaj Pachauri

Is the PM’s media advisor missing in action?

Brother, sister spar over seat on PM junket

9 June 2012

From Delhi Confidential, the gossip column of the Indian Express:

FAMILY FRACAS

The inclusion of Team Anna member, former TV anchor Shazia Ilmi, in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s media team for his trip to the Rio+20 summit in Brazil, has been the cause of much fuss in the PMO and in the MEA over the last few days.

Shazia was included in the entourage as a representative of her family-run Urdu newspaper Siasat Jadid.

But her elder brother, Aijaz Ilmi, who identifies himself as editor of the Lucknow edition, wrote to the MEA saying Shazia was now a “full-time activist” and “doesn’t represent the paper” though she was “part of the family”. He said Shazia’s nomination for the trip was done without his knowledge and must be treated as “invalid and infructuous”.

Shazia, however, counters this saying Aizaz isn’t the editor who, in turn, says: “Now it’s for the MEA to decide.”

Some decision.

Also read: Ex-Star News, ToI journos behind Team Anna

The ex-Zee News journo on Anna Hazare team

What the media toilet at PMO says about India

23 March 2011

The state of Indian newspapers and news channels (and magazines*) can be judged by the condition of their toilets. And so, it seems, can the state of the most important address in the country—that of the prime minister of the democratic, socialist, secular republic of India.

A correspondent for an English news channel forwards a picture of what passes off as a toilet for the media scrum waiting outside the prime minister’s office at 7, Race Course Road in New Delhi.

The correspondent writes: 

“Till 2006, the media was allowed to wait for visitors to the PM’s house at a media stand built during the prime ministership of Atal Behari Vajpayee and located inside the сompound of the PM’s residence.

“”It had a covered roof to give protection to reporters and cameramen against sun and rain, and given its location some amount of care was taken for its upkeep and maintenance.

“In 2006, the special protection group (SPG) guarding the PM ejected the media from the precincts of the PMO after some TV channels made the trespassing of two girls and a boy a breach-of-security issue.

“The media gaggle now waits on the other side of the road (near Race Course). Visitors to the PMO now have to walk across the road and talk to them. Needless to say, many media people spend the whole day here.

“The PMO has erected a temporary toilet for the media, facing the exit gate of 7, RCR. The media and police share the toilet and more often than not, it is dirty and stinking.” 

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