In the latest issue of Open magazine, its deputy political editor Jatin Gandhi lays his hand on a “Request for Proposal” (RFP) document of the Gujarat government that shows how “almost every day, the Indian media—and sometimes the foreign media too—is tricked or influenced by Narendra Modi‘s public relations machinery”.
The RFP besides setting targets for the PR firm that bags the contract (see image, above) also lists what is expected of a PR firm if it bags the contract to manage the Gujarat chief minister’s image.
# The hired PR firm should ‘arrange for national and international media to visit Gujarat and attend various events organized by the different departments of the Government of Gujarat’.
# ‘The number of media personnel for any event shall be decided by the Commissionerate of information after deliberation on the scale of the event.’
# “It is the Firm’s responsibility to arrange for the visits of journalists to Gujarat, any other part of the country or abroad. The expenses for the same will be reimbursed by the Commissionerate of Information on the submission of actual bills.’
The story quotes sources as saying the state government has already borne the expenses of scores of journalists, paying for their flights, travel within Gujarat and stay on assorted occasions (and multiple visits in some cases).
“Senior journalists are usually assured of luncheon meetings with Modi, with seating plans drawn up to boost their egos. The current Indian PR agency (Mutual PR) has so far arranged meetings between Modi and a range of newspaper and magazine editors.
“Starting this year, the government also has a budget allocation for taking journalists abroad on Modi’s foreign visits….
“At the Vibrant Gujarat summit earlier this year, a list of 20 journalists was drawn for a luncheon meeting with Modi. On this list was Madhu Kishwar, editor of Manushi and a fellow at the Delhi-based Centre for Study of Developing Societies, who has turned from being a critic to an advocate of Modi.
“Internal communication accessed by Open shows that the agency was wooing Kishwar, something she firmly denies.
She says that she is writing a book on Modi: “I am going to include a chapter, I think, on the myth and reality of Modi’s PR. There is no PR. I have written angry letters to the CM’s office asking for information for which I have been waiting several weeks now. They are so overburdened.”
“With Kishwar claiming she is oblivious to the machinery at work, the Gujarat government nevertheless gave her special attention because she was seen as one of the lone voices emerging from the ‘the Left liberal space’ favourable to Modi’s policies with ‘captive column space available to her in The Hindu, DNA and Manushi…’
Read the full article: The Modi mythology