In a move to refurbish its image among Punjab-origin non-resident Indians (NRIs) ahead of the 2017 assembly polls, the Badal government on Wednesday organised an interaction with Punjabi media outlets abroad which was reportedly steered by Rabindra Narayan, chief executive officer (CEO) of the PTC channel -- in which deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal holds a majority stake.
Though the meeting was called by the state department of public relations, it was Narayan who held a one-on-one interaction with the NRI media owners and journalists, according to those who attended the meeting held in a five-star hotel here.
Director, public relations, Rahul Tiwari confirmed to Hindustan Times that the PTC CEO was present during the interaction. “He came suddenly and sat with us. What could we do in that situation?” said Tiwari.
More than two dozen local representatives of various channels and radio shows were invited by the public relations (PR) department apparently to discuss government advertisements to NRI media outlets.
But the meeting turned out to be an exercise to subtly sermon the NRI participants to change their “negative perception” about the Badal government.
Each participant was called by the PR department for an informal talk with Tiwari and additional director Senu Duggal in the coffee shop. It was Narayan who reportedly dominated the meeting, which a participant called a “grill session”.
A representative of a Canada-based radio station disclosed that Narayan asked for the reasons behind the NRI media’s “harsh coverage” of the Punjab government, particularly the Badal family. “Narayan asked why we upload anti-government posts on Facebook and WhatsApp and the motives behind tarnishing the government’s image,” he said, adding: “The PTC honcho had come prepared as he had the entire track record of Facebook updates of all the main invitees.”
However, the interaction was not a one-sided affair. Even the NRI journalists countered Narayan with tough questions, said another participant.
When contacted, Narayan said he was attending the meeting as the NRI media representative, not as the PTC head. “I have my own TV channels in the US and Canada. Why would I go there as the PTC CEO?”