Pursuing Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's plans to further sharpen its media strategy ahead of coming Lok Sabha elections, the party has selected two spokespersons from Punjab to participate in a five days media workshop at Delhi beginning September 15.
Sources said that Gandhi is likely to open the workshop to exhibit party's focused media strategy to counter BJP's onslaught against the UPA government.
Jaiveer Shergill, a Jalandhar based Supreme Court lawyer and Rajanbir Singh son of slain Punjab finance minister Balwant Singh were selected from Punjab.
Shergill was also credited with designing a Punjab Congress helpline to extend legal assistance to Congressmen engaged in fighting against alleged Akali repression in the state. Rajanbir Singh would be trained as Sikh face of the party at television channels, sources said.
Sources said that independent experts' panel secretly appraised working of 300 state spokespersons across the country after their appointment at July workshop and submitted its final recommendations to select 50 such spokespersons to the Congress leadership.
Interestingly, the firebrand Congress spokespersons - Sukhpal Khaira, a former Bholath MLA and Nimisha Mehta, Punjab Mahila Congress vice president and a young Hindu woman leader, failed to secure a place in Rahul's list, despite playing an assertive role in the state politics to counter SAD-BJP propaganda against the Centre. Raman Kumar, a Ludhiana based party spokesperson, too fail to qualify the criteria for the workshop.
"I am thankful to the party president Sonia Gandhi for extending me this opportunity. My sole mission is to take message of Rahul Gandhi to grass-root level and to dispel BJP's sham propaganda," Shergill quipped.
Ajay Maken, Congress general secretary and chairman communications and media department, in a communiqué to these selected participants, said the workshop was aimed at enhancing their capability to have a productive dialogue with the public and the media so as to put forth party's view effectively.
The Congress believes that media handling would be a key weapon in mobilising public sentiment in the tough 2014 battle in its favour, but due to its tricky profile, a wrong statement could give a strong advantage to the rivals.
"Since several subjects lend themselves to a multiplicity of perspectives, thus, there is a wide array of views often expressed in the media. While we as a party have always believed in encouraging diverse views and opinions before framing policies or at arriving at a consensus on issues, but we need to ensure that our internal debates are not misconstrued as an absence of a single view point/single voice at the party level," Maken said.
Congress will train its spokespersons about articulating the party stand on issues in the election campaign with a clear focus on television media that has emerged as one of the key medium of information dissemination. The workshop, sources said, would also be aimed at identifying promising spokespersons outside Delhi. "We will train you to become better communicators while it will help us select national spokespersons and television panelists. We have chosen top professionals and subject experts to train you on Television panel discussions," Maken said, adding that such workshops would be conducted periodically.