Senior official to handle PMO's media affairs

The Modi government and BJP are planning a major media outreach with a senior official expected to be soon appointed to handle PMO's interface with the media while ministers will also be drafted as spokespersons.

The PMO appointment is due to be announced in a few days with the choice narrowing down to two senior officers, one of them belonging to the Indian Foreign Service. The decision on ministers speaking on government as well as party issues will also be taken soon.

The move to designate a senior officer as PMO "spokesperson" instead of a journalist being named media adviser, as has been the practice in the past, is not surprising as it reflects Modi's set-up when he was Gujarat chief minister.

BJP leaders have not been very impressed by UPA's experience of appointing journalists as media or communication advisers and the decision to stick to officials is seen to work better.

So far there has been no formal interface between the PMO and the media, barring the steady stream of tweets and announcements on the official Twitter handle and website.

The party has also been hampered by a lack of regular assessment of political issues and its media strategy has been event-driven. This has meant that BJP's position on some issues has been left to junior figures to articulate, sometimes with not-so-happy results.

With the appointment of Amit Shah as BJP chief, some of this seems set to change.

Senior ministers, some of whom like Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar were party spokespersons, are likely to be asked to bat for the party more often.

The BJP leadership has taken the view that ministers cannot be confined to just their ministries, and should be utilized for party work too.

This is in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's view that there is no airtight separation between the government and the party and, in fact, the organizational set-up should be closely aligned to official programmes.

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