In a new initiative, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is setting in motion regular interactions with senior journalists, beginning on Wednesday, with the first group of five editors of regional and national organisations.
“I am hoping that it will become the preferred format for regular interactions between the groups of editors and the PM,” media advisor to the PM, Harish Khare said. Transcript of the interaction will be available on the PM’s official website.
The move follows brainstorming within the government and the Congress on how to counter the opposition’s attacks, and also the civil society activists on the issue of corruption.
The issue had figured during the Congress Working Committee meeting on Friday, where a senior leader suggested that Singh should address the nation to forcefully put his point across.
The issue of lagging behind in the perception battle on corruption has been bothering the government and the setting-up of group of ministers (GoM) to brief the media, was part of a larger strategy to go on the offensive. Singh has so far held only three nationally televised press conferences in the last seven years of his tenure as PM, and he rarely gives interviews. In February, he had held an interaction with the editors of TV channels.
Home minister P Chidambaram, in a recent interview to NDTV, had conceded that the PM should speak more. “I acknowledge that lot of people would like the PM to step up to the plate, so as to say, and speak more often. But that is the style of the person,” he said.
The latest plan appears to have been worked out to dispel the widespread impression that the PM has been unusually quiet, amid increasing accusations about non-performance of his government, plagued with corruption allegations.