There’s more sleaze in Congress cupboard
Congress leaders are in a state of shock over revelations on Digvijay Singh‘s secret love life with a married TV journalist. They are worried that more such skeletons will tumble out of their leaders’ cupboards.
There are indications that BJP supporters may soon release sex and sleaze information about two Central ministers involved with two journalists.
From Buzzword, the gossip column of The Sunday Guardian:
The Communists in Kerala were left red-faced when the CPI(M) newspaper Deshabhimani carried a full page advertisement by Narendra Modi‘s Gujarat government. The advertisement, highlighting Gujarat’s Mahatma Gandhi Swachchata Mission, features a huge Modi portrait.
When taken to task, the newspaper management defended their act by saying it was a government advertisement.
The associate editor of the newspaper went ahead to say that it did not matter if the ad was from the Narendra Modi government, or from Mamata Banerjee or Oommen Chandy. However, CPM bosses have told the newspaper to stay away from accepting all Modi advertisements.
External reading: Madhyamam
Also read: Is Modi media biased against Rahul Gandhi?
It was in South Delhi socialite Bina Ramani‘s Tamarind Court restaurant that Jessica Lall, a “model who worked as a celebrity barmaid”, was shot dead in 1999 by Manu Sharma, the son of Congress politician Venod Sharma.
As the owner of the restaurant which was the scene of the crime, Bina Ramani spent nine days in jail in the case. She has an interview with Tehelka this week following the release of her book Bird in a Banyan Tree:
You have been sharply critical of the role media played in the aftermath of the Jessica Lal trial. Yet, it was a Tehelka investigation that brought out the truth. Do you think media can ensure justice?
It is not a guarantee that the media can ensure justice but it can certainly carve the path to it. Conversely, it can derail justice when it becomes over-zealous about its point of view. The media in India is extremely powerful and can wield a lot of influence—it should therefore be thorough i its investigation.
Also read: Note to directors: It was Shammy, nor Barkha
Virendra Kapoor in The Sunday Guardian:
There is this senior minister in the UPA government, who is so sensitive to what the media says and writes about him that he invariably gets on the phone to the media owner to complain against even a passing mention which may not be too complimentary about him.
Like the other day, he SMSed a popular television anchor, asking him to immediately replace a panellist debating the Assembly election results because what the panellist said about the fallout of the outcome on the minister’s own re-election chances was highly pessimistic.
Of course, the anchor retained the said panellist for the entire duration of the programme.
The growing intrusion of corporate money into the media is beginning to show in myriad ways.
For instance, ever since a big industrial group made a huge investment in a multi-channel television group, its news channel has become rather staid.
While other English language channels debate major controversies of the day, and generally excoriate the government for its various acts of omission and commission, this channel’s focus has shifted to “soft” or non-controversial topics.
A minister has only to pick up the phone to complain to the corporate boss that untrue things were said about him in a panel discussion for the channel to be chastised by its paymaster. Discretion being the better part of valour, the channel generally steers clear of major controversies, thus leaving the field clear for the other English language channels.
Likewise, thanks to corporate pressures, the channel now feels obliged to use the services of controversial journalists who lack even basic skills of proficient writing and clear articulation.
Read the full column: No holds barred
Good news for journalists with bad hearts, lungs and kidneys, from the gossip columns of the Sunday papers.
From The Telegraph diary:
Manmohan Singh has decided to extend a helping hand to journalists. The Centre has accepted a long-standing demand by scribes that new health cards be issued to accreditated journalsits.
These health cards will help ailing journos get treatment at leading hospitals in the Delhi and national capital region at heavily subsidised rates.
Congressmen must be hoping that the noble gesture would help tame the torrent of scathing comments about the government’s performance.
Nora Chopra in The Sunday Guardian:
The Manmohan Singh government has accepted the demand of accreditated journalists for health cards. The cards will ensure that they get heavy discounts at leading hospitals such as Fortis, Medanta and Escorts in Delhi and the national capital region.
Whether this ensures good press to the government remains to be seen.
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.
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.
The Telegraph Diary
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.
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.