Concerned over bad publicity in the media owing to opposition’s campaign, the information and public relations department on Friday deputed its staffers to keep an “eagle” eye on allegations being leveled by the Congress leadership, especially, Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa against the SAD-BJP government on daily basis.
Then government would immediately issue counter statements to “effectively” and “timely” check ongoing Congress propaganda, as part of its damage control strategy ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
Sources said that Bikram Singh Majithia, information and public relations minister, while presiding over a departmental meeting here, directed the district level public relation (PR) officers to immediately alert the seniors at Chandigarh including himself about disinformation or allegations hurled by the Congress leaders during their visits in districts.
The PR staffers were told to keep an eagle eye on Congress rallies, dharnas, press conferences, press releases to ascertain contents of the allegations against the functioning of the alliance government or the ruling parties. Then, keeping in view the level of allegation and the stature of the Congress leader concerned, a counter statement would be issued by a suitable political dignitary either from the ruling parties or from the government side to categorically explain stand their stand on any important issue.
Sources said publication of news items about government’s bad fiscal health recently and Bajwa’s relentless propaganda in media against the alliance government’s failures on several social, political and welfare issues caused alarming bells in the government circles.
“Unlike in the past, the PR staffers will now be on toes to collect information about Congress leadership activities. This will be one of the parameters to assess their performance,” sources said, adding that the staffers would be equipped with latest gadgets to respond effectively to the new directions.
In another initiative to strike emotional chord with the general public, the department directed the PR staffers to inform the head office about death of prominent personality in their district or town so that a press note could be issued from the government side to condole the demise.
“Keeping in view the stature of the deceased personality, the condolence press note will be issued on behalf of the chief minister (CM), deputy chief minister or Majithia. Besides, the CM will also send a personal condolence letter to the bereaved family. This will help government share the grief,” sources said, adding that though such a move was earlier planned soon after formation of the government, but it was not made operational owing to lack of monitoring in the department.
Sources said that the move on dispatching condolence messages was an attempt to exhibit humane face of the government in public.
Majithia said that it was imperative for the PR staffers to timely assist media persons by providing them required information on government initiatives. He also advised them to be more focus on the contents of their press releases with latest facts and figures besides feeding the media with success stories or unique development initiatives.
The department has already instructed the district public relations officers to ensure publication of 10 development stories per month and submit their reports by fifth day of the next month.
Earlier, Majithia had a long discussion with Harcharan Bains, CM’s national media advisor, Jangveer Singh, DCM’s media advisor and Vineet Joshi, CM’s assistant media advisor for ensuring more efficiency and coordination in PR functioning thereby projecting as well as disseminating the accurate information regarding different initiatives of state government.