Mediaah! Why the new I&B ministry rejig is disappointing

11 Nov,2014

By Pradyuman Maheshwari


The near-midnight missive on Sunday that Arun Jaitley was to be the new information and broadcasting minister was disappointing.  To me it appeared more of a sop to the senior BJP leader in lieu of the defence ministry that was given away to former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. It could of course also be because Olympic awardwinning sportsperson Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is too much of a newbie to deal with a crucial ministry like I&B as Minister of State.


But then defence was always an additional responsibility and even Mr Jaitley is reported to have said that soon after taking charge of finance in May 2014 . So there was no real need for a sop.


My concern with the new I&B minister is his reputation of flexing muscles with the media (and editors) unkind to the BJP. Jaitley is smart and I hope he allays all fears… especially the one in some quarters that the regulators could be sent chasing media entities that take on the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


The other reason for disappointment is that if Modi was really keen on a compact government, combining ministries that could be orchestrated together, he should’ve got Communications and Information Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to hold additional charge of I&B. Technology and communications are the new drivers of the media and Prasad has led I&B in the past.


And my last peeve: former I&B minister Prakash Javadekar made a statement that “ideologically” and “philosophically” he would work towards the abolition of his ministry. By virtue of this reshuffle-cum-expansion, not only has Modi rubbished Javadekar’s view, but has only added on one more caretaker for the portfolio.




Pradyuman Maheshwari can be reached via Twitter at @pmahesh. The views expressed here are his own.


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