Modi gags ministers; says no media bytes on sensitive issues

Modi gags ministers; says no media bytes on sensitive issues

Modi gags ministers; says no media bytes on sensitive issues

Acting swiftly to cork the Article 370 abrogation controversy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a virtual gagging order on Thursday, asking his ministers to “shut up” and focus on work instead of providing fodder to the media.

Modi reportedly told the ministers not to jump the gun and give out information on sensitive issues in public. Such issues, he apparently said, should be raised only within the Cabinet and in party circles, BJP sources said.

“Going public and airing opinions through the media on sensitive issues is not a good practice,” Modi is said to have advised the Ministers.

Modi told his men, “the people gave us a mandate for government and we should focus on fulfilling the aspirations of the people.”

Needless comments by ministers become headline news  for wrong reasons, he noted.

The worry of the new PM was that 24x7 news channels would repeatedly air controversial statements, diverting public attention to “trivial matters”, away from the good work  done by the government, a senior minister told Deccan Herald.

Modi’s fiat had instant impact and several ministers refused to take “political questions” at their official press conference after assuming office.

Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari pointedly told the media not to ask any political questions. When  questioned about the controversial Sethusamudram project, he evaded a straight answer saying, “as the matter is in court, I don’t want to comment on this issue”.

Just a day after the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre, two Union Ministers’ comments created controversy. Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh created a row with his statement that the new government had started the process of repealing Article 370 providing special status, which invited strong criticism from Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and other leaders.

Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla’s statement that Muslims were not minorities while Parsis with their dwindling population qualified for the tag, triggered a row. The Opposition parties slammed her.

In another development, the Department of Personnel has issued an advisory to the new ministers not to appoint relatives as personal staff.