Under attack from civil society activists, the media and some of
his own party members, over perceived communication gap over
critical issues, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided on a
media outreach plan that kicks off with a meeting with some senior
The prime minister will meet a group of editors of regional and
national dailies Wednesday, government sources told IANS.
Manmohan Singh has so far held only three nationally televised
press conferences in the last seven years has been prime minister
but has not been known to give interviews to the Indian media. He
last spoke to editors of some TV channels four months ago.
With the opposition upping the ante over a host of issues ranging
from inflation to corruption ahead of the monsoon session of
parliament that begins Aug 1, the government and the ruling
Congress party have worked out a new communication strategy.
Part of an image makeover plan, the new strategy will include
frequent meetings between the prime minister and senior editors of
both print and electronic media. It could also entail the prime
minister meeting senior journalists almost every week, informed
The media outreach plan is being worked out to dispel the
widespread impression that the prime minister has been unusually
quiet, and possibly avoiding the public glare, amid increasingly
shrill accusations about non-performance and malfeasance in his
The image of the UPA government has taken a battering in recent
months following scams like the sale of 2G spectrum and deals
struck ahead of the Commonwealth Games as well as debates over the
The government's failure to communicate was a subject of animated
discussion at a closed door meeting of the Congress party top
brass recently, a well-placed source disclosed.
The disaffection in the party has been brewing for some time.
Party insiders point out that Home Minister P. Chidambaram was
only airing the party's discontent when he said in a recent
interview that people expected their top leader to be more
"...But yes, I acknowledge that lots of people would like the
prime minister to step up to the plate, so as to say, and speak
more often. But that is the style of the person," Chidambaram told
NDTV when asked why Manmohan Singh did not speak on the issue of
bringing the prime minister under the purview of the proposed
"There is disquiet in the party and among senior leaders about the
government's communication failure vis-a-vis anti-corruption
protests and on issues of policy," Mahesh Rangarajan, a political
analyst, told IANS.
"It signals a need for a change in the style of leadership and the
style of communication," he said.
Not all agree. Manish Tewari, an MP from Ludhiana and a
spokesperson of the Congress, said: "The PM has a style and
believes that his work should speak for itself. By temperament and
personality, he is not the kind to speak much."
His aides say that Manmohan Singh has spoken when required, has
met the media more than many of his predecessors and does not
necessarily have to copy the "American style" of public speaking