The second working day of the Aam Aadmi Party government at the Delhi Secretariat was virtually lost to chaos with the media boycotting a press conference following an initial decision to ban reporters inside the premises, which was, however, later on lifted in the evening. Entry for the media persons was restricted to the media centre and they were not allowed to visit the rooms of ministers and other offices inside the secretariat. Even, PIB accredited journalists were denied entry. This type of ban has never happened in the past with the media.
A press conference called by Satyendra Jain, the minister in charge of Health and Industries, was boycotted by the media. Jain, who was supposed to open the briefing, reached the venue around two hours late than the given time, and had to face the wrath of the mediapersons who demanded an explanation for the ban. The debate between the reporters and the newly-elected minister became more vociferous when Jain said that he was not interested in holding a press conference. However, he immediately apologised for the remark and said that he had no clue as to who had ordered the ban.
Later, with a view of controlling the situation, the PWD, Urban Development and Education Minister, Manish Sisodia, came to the AAP’s rescue, saying, “Access for the media wouldn’t be less, in fact, (it would be) more than what it was under the earlier government”. Sisodia held an informal meeting with the journalists and finally the issue was sorted out. Meanwhile, there was too much chaos on news channels and also outrage on social media against AAP and its government. Earlier, AAP government had claimed that the public would be allowed free entry to the secretariat without any passes. On the other hand, they banned media from entering Delhi Secretariat. This entire episode took a political turn.
I personally feel that the decision taken by Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet to ban media is not a well thought out and healthy decision. However, as I belong to the same fraternity, opposing the ban does not mean that media in India is duty bound and sincere. Most of the media houses are manipulating the news. Many political parties and its leaders are running media businesses. Reporters are paid to spy and target rival parties’ leader. Leaders are deciding media houses’ agenda. In such a situation, it becomes difficult for parties like AAP to work freely. If media keeps poking them 24/7 in their cabins and come up with all sorts of weird news then how will they perform? AAP is the only party which media tried to spoil from the beginning. Literally, at many places, media has tarnished the image of Arvind Kejriwal by calling his move as ‘drama’. I think, it’s fair if they refrain from media and ‘work hard’ on the promises they made to Delhi people. Anyhow, at the end, their work should speak louder. Moreover, at such a crucial stage, even AAP needs to be more smart and sensible while dealing with media personnel, as media has the capacity to make or break.
Nowadays, media is strengthened in the hands of corrupt politicians and mafias. They have forgotten that they are the fourth pillar of democracy and are responsible to execute their work without biasness. Biggest threat to 4th estate of democracy is from those cowards who hesitate to call spade a spade. Blackmail journalism is also another threat to media and they glorify by bargaining and twisting facts for Perks. Biggest threat to the 4th estate of democracy is from those journalists who are on Contract Coverage of political parties. They are placed to spy on rivals. The ethics of journalism is lost. Journalist remains a hyped and overvalued public relation executive in the hands of banners. Bigger the banner, greater the hypocrisy. Somewhere, the social media is playing the role of a watch dog by exposing such journalists and banners.
Transparency doesn’t mean disclosing all to media. It has been just four days since the Aam Aadmi Party government has come to power in Delhi and the path is not rosy for them. AAP government has not banned media from entering the Delhi Secretariat, its entry has been restricted to the media centre and media persons are no longer allowed to visit the rooms of ministers and other offices in the secretariat.
Reforming governance is a complex task which requires a well-balanced contemplation of many aspects in law, politics, public administration, economy, sociology etc relating to the state in a calibrated manner. Every governance reform usually fails to achieve its intended objective due to the human failure in viewing all its ramifications. An ill planned reform, if fails, will probably cause more irreversible hardships to people than not having that reform at all. Therefore, carefully planned and steady reforms are what Delhi needs, particularly after a long spell of mal-governance under Congress rule. Delhi cannot withstand another spell of mal-governance. Right now, the single most comprehensive reform Delhi needs is the full statehood as Kejriwal demands. However, to run a smooth government and maintain law and order, Delhi first needs its own police, not Lokpal. Without a good police system, Lokpal may not be able to function well.
Instead of conflicting with media, CM should concentrate on meeting the immediate demands of drinking water, subsidised electricity, women’s safety and proper shelter for the poor and middle class people. Let them perform and even media should not poke them every time. They should allow them to settle and execute the promises. If AAP fails then media knows what to do. I’m ending my note, hoping that media will become mature and will allow AAP to run an able government in future.