Concerned over bad publicity in the media owing to the opposition’s campaign, the Punjab information and public relations department on Friday deputed its staffers to keep an “eagle” eye on charges being levelled by the Congress leadership, especially state party chief Partap Singh Bajwa, against the SADBJP government on a daily basis.
Then the government would immediately issue counter-statements to “effectively” and “timely” check the ongoing Congress propaganda, as part of its damage control strategy ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Sources said Bikram Singh Majithia, information and public relations minister, while presiding over a department meeting, directed the district-level public relations officers to immediately alert the seniors in Chandigarh, including him, about disinformation or allegations hurled by the Congress leaders during their visits in the districts.
The PR staffers were told to keep an eagle eye on the Congress rallies, dharnas, press conferences and press releases to ascertain the contents of the allegations against the functioning of the alliance government or the ruling parties.
Then, keeping in view the level of the 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 their stand on any important issue.
Sources said the publication of the news items about the government’s bad fiscal health recently and Bajwa’s relentless propaganda in the media against the alliance gover nment’s alleged failure on several social, political and welfare issues had led to alarm bells ringing in government circles.
“Unlike in the past, PR staffers will now be on their toes to collect information about the Congress leadership activities. This will be a parameter 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 an emotional chord with the public, the department directed the PR staffers to inform the head office in case of death of a prominent personality in their district or town so that a press note could be issued from the government side to condole the demise.
Majithia said it was imperative for PR staffers to assist the media on time by providing required information on government initiatives. He also advised them to be more focused on the contents of their press releases with latest facts and figures besides feeding the media with success stories or unique development initiatives.