Modi chooses Jaitley to handle govt image

PM wants his messages to reach people via AIR, DD

Modi chooses Jaitley to handle govt image

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to play the role of chief spokesperson of the government by giving him additional charge of the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry.

Jaitley was on Sunday freed of the defence portfolio so that he could concentrate on the next budget and economic reforms. Jaitley was also told by Modi that his relations with the media would help in shaping the government's image.

Besides, Modi has indicated that he wants to ensure that his message reaches the people through official media like All India Radio and Doordarshan. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sources said Jaitley’s stewardship of the I&B Ministry would help this objective.

Initially, Jaitley was reluctant to take up the additional role, saying he was busy with next year’s budget. This will be the first full-fledged budget of the Modi government. Left to himself, Jaitley would have preferred additional charge of the Law and Justice Ministry, which was given to D V Sadananda Gowda after he was removed as Railway Minister to make way for Suresh Prabhu. But Modi is understood to have persuaded Jaitley to take up additional charge of the I&B Ministry. On two occasions, Modi had asked Jaitley to make mega announcements on fixing the price of natural gas and allocation of coal mines by auction.

With his new role as I&B Minister, Jaitley was told that he would be back to performing his earlier role as one of the BJP’s important spokespersons, appearing regularly on news shows to promote the government's stand and the party line.
The assignment for Jaitley also underscores Modi's move to strengthen the government's communication strategy, which first saw the prime minister’s interaction with journalists for the first time and then with some editors recently. Hitherto, Modi had chosen not to interact with media personnel, instead preferring to convey his messages through Twitter and other social media outlets.

In his first day in office as I&B Minister, Jaitley said, “I have been the I&B Minister in the past but then there was more print media than electronic media.

“ Today, there had been a lot of growth of radio and digital media. There was a time when the major work of this ministry was Doordarshan and All India Radio.

“It is still a major area,” but the ministry would have to look at the changed information process scenario” he said.

Later in the day, as the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party attacked Modi for the Cabinet reshuffle, Jaitley defended his government.

Jaitley said the Congress had made “unfounded charges” against ministers. “It is not right to make such baseless allegations against the new ministers,” he said.
“As long as there is no moral turpitude in the cases against the new ministers, there is nothing wrong.”

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