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Govt gets new spokesperson

New Delhi, Aug. 11: A.P. Frank Noronha has taken over as the chief spokesperson for the Union government after his predecessor Neelam Kapur was “shunted out” on Friday.

A 1982-batch Indian Information Service officer, Noronha will serve as the director-general of media and communication to the government of India. He will be in-charge of the Press Information Bureau.

Noronha used to be director-general of directorate of field publicity (DFP) — a part of the information and broadcasting ministry — the position that has now been allotted to Kapur.

Sources said that it was a clear demotion for her, as the chief spokesperson’s post is of the special secretary rank while that of the DG-field publicity is that of an additional secretary level.

The removal of Kapur was expected for quite some time as she was considered very close to the earlier UPA dispensation.

The PIB is considered as an important media arm of the government, playing an active role in working for government publicity and awareness generation.

However, over the years, it has been reduced to the sidelines, more so with the extensive use of the social media by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his lieutenants.

Doordarshan news director-general S.M. Khan has also been shown the door. He has been placed under “compulsory wait”. Archana Datta, director-general (news) in All India Radio, has been given additional charge of DD news.

“Khan was perceived to be close to several Congress leaders and many in the BJP believed that he was directly responsible for editing and delaying the Narendra Modi interview on the national channel during the general elections,” a source said.

“There have also been goof-ups and huge glitches in the coverage of Prime Minister’s foreign trips in the last two months and all this was not going down well with the government, so he was axed,” the source added.