Dharmendra Pradhan, the Union Petroleum Minister, had announced through his Twitter account @dpradhanbjp on August 13 that the oil prices would be reduced with effect from 12 pm on August 14 and would be coming down by around INR 1.89 to 2.38 per litre. This was a novel approach adopted by a Union minister since never before had a price reduction in oil been announced on a social media platform. What added to the occasion was that it was being said 30 hours before the price decrease actually happened and it was the highest reduction in oil prices in the last 11 months in India.
Modi government redefining rules of engagement with media
One of the major ambitions of Narendra Modi, ever since taking over as the PM of India, has been to modernize the country in every way possible and one way to achieve that has been to ensure that as many members of the national administration as possible are present on social media platforms. Narendra Modi has shown the way himself and others are now following in his footsteps. Incidents like these represent a welcome reversal of the practice where previously only journalists – if they were lucky enough – got such critical news.
Like the media in any other country, Indian media is also on the constant lookout for news and now several ministers are coming directly to them on public platforms and sharing the news with them. The NDA has also stated that it has learnt from the mistakes made by the UPA with regard to communication of important information to the media as well as the public at large. There were many occasions when there were too many people speaking on one issue, people speaking before they were meant to and lack of a single source from which information could be gleaned. There were also several facepalm moments for the government when information was leaked.
This could be one of the reasons why the Modi-led administration is so proactive on the various public platforms. It does not want to leave any chance whereby some news can be leaked to the media from an unofficial source and cause it embarrassment. This is why the apex leaders of the party always instructed the members to learn the ropes of dealing with media. During the last Lok Sabha campaign the party ran a successful election campaign and a major part of it was by using social media.
The success achieved in this helped create a roadmap for the days ahead. Ever since coming to power the Press Information Bureau has been using popular social media and networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. In fact every single minister as well as ministry has a separate user ID – this was in fact one of the first steps taken in this regard. This makes sure that information is always there from different official sources and there is no scope for any doubt regarding the authenticity of the same. One only hopes that this attitude of the Indian Government continues for a really long period of time.
BJP leaves out LK Advani and MM Joshi from top bodies
One look at Indian politics and anyone could be forgiven for thinking that here the adage is the older you are the better you are. Well, going by events that have been transpiring of late, that would not seem to be the case. At least, the ruling party BJP does not think like that! This can be gleaned from the way the power-holders at the Centre have chosen to leave out seasoned veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi from their two top panels.
The seniors have been left out from the Central election committee as well as the parliamentary board, which happen to be the leading decision making bodies in the party. As per political analysts this formally implies that they have been finally marginalized and the power is now with a comparatively younger group of leaders. Both the ousted leaders had been permanent fixtures on the said panels. However, a new body has been created by the name of Margdarshak Mandal and this is where both Joshi and Advani will be working. The body also has some important names such as Narendra Modi, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Amit Shah – the present chief of BJP – and Rajnath Singh.
However, according to some it does not take away from the fact that the two veterans, who have contributed much for the party, have been humiliated and might feel offended with this sudden change. What one feels would be further hard for them to take is the fact that Vajpayee, who has been bed-ridden for years, is in the same committee as them in spite of their status as active participants in BJP’s various procedures. It is well-known that both these leaders would have been eyeing higher honours in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections before Modi took the centre-stage.
It needs to be noted that both the leaders are above the 75 years old category and recently the RSS, which is almost like the controlling body of the BJP, had been trying to dispense them with; and with this decision that has been taken by Amit Shah such efforts have found the desired ending. Incidentally, both the leaders had been asked to stand down from the recent elections. This may have emboldened their supporters who may have expected bigger role for them after the polls ended but in the end it was not to be.
During May, Advani was not given the post of Lok Sabha Speaker and Joshi was denied a ministerial post for the same reason, which both had dared to defy. The question that needs to be asked now is that what effect this will have on the party going into the days ahead. Will it act as a divisive factor breaking the national alliance into several camps? Will the two leaders be able to work whole-heartedly with the role they receive in the committee they have been made a part of?