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Chai pe no charcha: Modi's first press event as PM

PM says he wanted to strengthen ties with journalists and thanked them for reporting on a 'Clean India' campaign he launched recently. 'Journalists have turned their pens into brooms,' he says.
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondents, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2014 01:33 AM IST

Narendra Modi may have had a prickly relationship with the media but five months into office, the Prime Minister Saturday reached out to journalists, shaking hands and posing for selfies with them.

Often accused of keeping non-state media at bay, the PM met more than 150 journalists at a Diwali Milan, or a Diwali meet, at the BJP headquarters, pledging to meet the press more often.

“I am looking for ways to strengthen my relationship with you and... I will try to find time to meet you more often,” he said.

A relaxed Modi, who prefers Facebook and Twitter to communicate with people, arrived around noon, wearing a light pink kurta and a matching jacket.

The ice-breaker in his eight-minute speech came when he recalled his relationship with the Delhi press corps. "I used to once even arrange chairs, waiting for you (at the BJP headquarters). Those days were different."

Narendra Modi at a media interaction, his first after taking over as the Prime Minister, in New Delhi on Saturday. (PTI Photo)

Modi spent nearly six years at the party’s 11, Ashoka Road office in the power district of the Capital when he was the organisational secretary before being named the Gujarat chief minister in 2001.

“There are many things you are not able to write but much information comes out during interactions,” he said, adding he was exploring ways to renew his engagement with the press.

He thanked the media for spreading awareness about the Swachh Bharat -- Clean India — campaign that he launched on October 2. “The prime minister cannot pick up the broom alone… You have turned your pen into a broom, and I think this is a huge service.”

Modi didn’t field any questions but readily posed for selfies and signed autographs for journalists who jostled with each other to greet him as he walked down the dais to meet them.

Seeing a journalist struggle with the cellphone, the PM said, “People in electronic media can’t even take a selfie.” As he made his exit after 40 minutes, journalists were back at work -– recapping every detail of their meeting for audience as well as their readers.

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