The first reshuffle including minor induction in the Union Council of Ministers by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on January 20, 2011 appears to be cosmetic and not meaningful as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni has not been shifted or sacked.
In the scheme of the Constitution of India and the rule of law based system of democratic governance, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting is political PRO of the Government and for that matter propaganda strategist. The present Minister Ambika Soni has failed miserably to counter the ongoing adverse media blitz against the Government resulting in the growing public perception that this Government is corrupt, inert and vacillating over decisions that may stem the rot arising from such public misgivings. Soni has failed to manage the media to the advantage of the Government, thus proving beyond doubt that she is incompetent to manage the situation.
At a time when the UPA-II Government is facing onslaught from all sides on 2G spectrum allocations, Commonwealth Games and food economy management related scams and corruptions, appointment of Chief Vigilance Commissioner and unabated inflation, aided by anti-Government propaganda in the media, both print and electronic, public perception is being created about all round failure of the official machinery to stem the rots.
It is a parochial gang up of incompetent and inert persons at the helm right from the Prime Minister to I&B Minister and media heads particularly principal spokesperson of the Government and heads of news of AIR and Doordarshan. The present lot of government media heads is incompetent and unable to rise to the occasion, much less deliver by presenting the facts in correct perspective. The result has been public misperceptions galore. It is advantage alternative syndrome, which means advantage opposition. It does not mean that opposition is holier than the ruling UPA conglomerates. But what counts in the circumstances is public perception that the Government is tottering as it is ‘time passé’.
The remedy lies in the instant replacement of the I&B Minister by an articulate person with ability to fight fire in managing the media. Mere so called loyalty to 10 Janpath should and must not count. Modus operandi of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar could be emulated in the propaganda war to stem the ongoing rot. Also change the current official media heads including the principal spokesperson, most unpopular with her inability to perform the most unpleasant and challenging jobs with pleasure. Replace the present incompetent official media heads by active, fast and efficient propaganda strategists or managers from the market, who can mobilize the official media as well as private ones to the advantage of the Government!
writer M.Y. Siddiqui is former Director Public Relation for Ministry of Law and Justice & Railways.