The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Digvijay role model in BJP media tutorial

Bhopal, May 25: The media did not know that it was participating in a BJP workshop on Sunday and the participants did not know it was a news conference.

Instructor and law minister Arun Jaitley today addressed a news conference while over 100 BJP media coordinators took copious notes on how to field questions and convey the party’s point of view.

The minister, also in charge of the BJP Assembly campaign in Madhya Pradesh, was, however, aware of what was going on.

Jaitley demonstrated patience, acknowledging virtually each query with a preliminary “that is a very good question” and proceeding to target the Digvijay Singh regime for “empty slogans and non-performance”.

The minister also took care to respond to queries in Hindi for the benefit of the local media.

Jaitley may have lambasted Digvijay for all ills but the two-day BJP workshop on how to deal with the media during the campaign revolved around the chief minister. Participants from 45 districts and the state BJP had questions on how Digvijay could “manage, use and exploit” the media so effectively.

The spin-doctors ranging from Jaitley to Balbir Punj to Umesh Upadhya and Atul Jain also often showcased him as an “ideal” person making full use of the media to his advantage.

Citing examples from recent political developments, they said Digvijay always had a talking point — “news worthy stuff” to dole out to news-hungry scribes. The BJP, the media managers said, must reach out to the district-level correspondents with “facts” instead of waiting for the media to come.

Highlighting the role of media, Jaitley, however, asserted that the BJP must not lose its identity while trying to court the media. He said while the media’s role was important, it was not a “decisive opinion maker”.

Jaitley cited three “success stories” — Gandhi’s Dandi march, press censorship during Emergency and the Gujarat poll — to substantiate his argument.

Gandhi, he said, defied the then media’s dismissive approach towards the march. Indira Gandhi, on the other hand, could do little to ward off her defeat despite enforcing a “friendly press”. The Gujarat poll showed how a section of the media ran a campaign against chief minister Narendra Modi, but failed to alter public opinion.

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