A 70-year-old aide who does not mix with journalists as a public relations officer and for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that’s the media team. This novel approach of largely ignoring the press extends as far as not inviting New Delhi political correspondents to fly on Air India One for international visits. And the flacks, the BBC reports, are sulking about it.
Ministers and bureaucrats have also been reportedly told to avoid the media and speak only when Mr Modi offers an “official line”.
“Mr Modi’s attitude is now percolating to his council of ministers who were once media friendly, but are now avoiding journalists,” says senior journalist Kuldip Nayar.
Even the media-friendly Finance Minister Arun Jaitley offered just a handful of interviews after presenting the federal budget earlier this month.
Mr Modi has deputed Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, both former party spokesmen, to speak on behalf of the government.
Mr Modi has not spoken about limiting access to journalists, but many observers say it may have something to do with his troubled relationship with the media.
When he was the chief minister of Gujarat, he faced severe media criticism for doing little to stop anti-Muslim riots in his state in 2002 which left more than 1,000 dead. He has always denied the allegations.
“He simply doesn’t trust the media very much,” says a senior journalist, who prefers to remain unnamed.
As for the PR man, Jagdish Thakkar, he is described by journalists as rarely interacting with the media. “He simply smiles. And then we smile. There is no exchange of information,” says a senior reporter, requesting anonymity.