NEW DELHI: BJP leader Arun Jaitley is a media-savvy politician, but as Defence Minister, he follows in the footsteps of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when it comes to media relations. The MoD under Jaitley’s charge will usher in a new culture, by not having a media delegation from the national capital accompanying him on official domestic tours to defence establishments.
‘Express’ has learnt that the latest in this regard is the MoD’s decision not to take journalists from the national capital to Mumbai for the commissioning of the Navy’s new guided missile destroyer INS Kolkata slated for late August.
Desirous journalists would be facilitated to go about their job at the venue if they reach there on their own. “We do not plan to take any journalist to Mumbai for INS Kolkata’s commissioning. The local media representatives in Mumbai and those from Delhi reaching the venue on their own will be able to cover the warship’s commissioning,” an MoD official said.
This is a departure from the practice under the previous UPA Government and the then Defence Minister A K Antony, who had journalists from the national capital accompanying him on domestic tours more often than not. However, Antony too had stopped taking journalists along with him when he went on official foreign tours since 2007.
The MoD decision under the Modi administration has more to do with the austerity measures of the government than any “anti-media” sentiment, officials claimed.
Interestingly, Jaitley had gone out of Delhi twice as Defence Minister. In the second week of June, Jaitley had gone to Mumbai on a day-long visit when he commissioned two Indian Coast Guard fast patrol vessels- ICGS Achook and Agrim-at the Mazagon Docks Limited in Mumbai. He had again visited Jammu and Kashmir on June 14 and 15. On both occasions, Jaitley had preferred to interact with the local reporters, rather than take a media delegation from Delhi.
In fact, Modi’s first defence event as Prime Minister on June 14, when he went on board India’s largest warship and aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya off Goa, saw resentment among a section of the Delhi journalists on missing out on the opportunity to have a look at India’s latest defence acquisition and to report about it for their respective media organisation.
The ministry’s Department of Public Relations had restricted the number of journalists from Delhi accompanying the Prime Minister to INS Vikramaditya to less than 20, resulting in several of them being left out. Some of the journalists had lodged a formal written complaint with the Prime Minister’s and the Defence Minister’s Offices.