With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set to lay down office in about a month, his communication adviser made a belated attempt to redeem his battered image, suggesting that even that the media, especially television, did not take enough note about the all-round progress of the country and the prime minister’s thrust on development.
The UPA-II government has not not been as successful as UPA-I because of the global economic slowdown, the prime minister’s communications adviser, Pankaj Pachauri said Friday, even as he rolled out statistics about “unprecedented” development over the last 10 years which he said were not being picked up by the media “as its priorities are different”.
Pachauri was speaking at a meet-the-press programme at the Press Club of India here.
Pachauri said the prime minister has always preferred to talk about politics on the floor of the House but in the last two years “parliament has not given him enough
chances to speak”.
Referring to a study by the Centre for Media Studies, Pachauri said media coverage of prime minister’s messages on development issues has been “2.1 percent in
television news channels.” He said it has been 4.5 percent in English print media and five percent in the Hindi print media.
“Most of the things prime minister talked about is not registered,” he said, adding that most of the topics touched on by the prime minister have not been covered by the news channels.
“Because of media mix, his message is not as strong as should have been,” Pachauri said.
He said an analysis of leading news channels over the past few years revealed that 25 percent of the news time was devoted to politics, 10 percent to
entertainment and almost similar time to sports.
“On these topics, he (the prime minister) did not talk too much,” Pachauri said.
Pachauri added that Manmohan Singh had in the last decade given 1,158 speeches – almost one every three days – and there were over 1,600 press releases on the PMO website.
“The kind of economic progress in the last 10 years has not been witnessed in any country which is democratic. (This kind of) fight against poverty has not been seen
in the history of mankind.”
“The GDP has risen three times as is the per capita income. Students in universities have almost doubled. Rural wages have increased three times,” he said.
“The government is working. Its achievements are not reaching you as for the media, the priorities are different. If you reflect coolly on what the PM has done, the results evident will be good,” he said.
Asked if the prime minister will speak on the damaging claims made by his former media adviser Sanjaya Baru in his book released earlier this month, Pachauri said
the PMO has already made statements, the prime minister’s family has spoken and the Congress had made a considered statement.
“I don’t think there is anything new to say about it,” he said.
Baru’s book, released earlier this month, suggested that the prime minister had “defanged” by the Congress and that he was overshadowed in appointments to cabinet
and on policy issues by party president Sonia Gandhi.
Asked about perception that the prime minister was weak, Pachauri said “if he had been weak, performance of government would not have been as strong.”
He said the prime minister wanted his work to speak for himself and did not seek publicity for himself.