Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is said to have invited an august gathering of ‘celebrated voices of opinion’ to his residence last week. The handpicked names included Arnab Goswami, Shekhar Gupta, Navika Kumar, TN Ninan, PR Ramesh, Frank Naronha, Swapandas Gupta. There was noticeably no one from the India Today Group.
Jaitley is said to have been on good terms with several high profile media personalities, which includes veteran journalist Swapan Dasgupta as well as Barkha Dutt. A few months ago, Jaitley had hosted a lunch for media. He is known as darling of the media in many circles. Many have blamed him for owning a nexus of dedicated media personalities who shun criticizing him, thereby already influencing media's stand on the current government. It has also been said that PM Modi who is often heard in public gatherings and only gives select few media interviews, met with his cabinet colleagues and suggested doing interviews to highlight the work his government has been doing after coming into power.
The BJP’s interactions with the Indian media have been interesting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met editors from leading newspapers on Monday, 3rd November at his residence. This was the second meeting after the one on October 25th in which PM Modi interacted with media personalities.
Those present at the meeting included TOI Editor-In-Chief Jaideep Bose, Hindustan Times Editor-In-Chief Sanjoy Narayan, Editor of The Hindu Malini Parthasarthy, India Today Group’s Editorial Advisor Shekhar Gupta, Chief Editor of Indian Express Raj Kamal Jha, Editorial Director and MD of The Sunday Guardian MD Nalapat, The Telegraph’s Editor Manini Chatterjee, The Tribune’s Editor-In-Chief, Raj Chengappa, Deccan Chronicle’s T V Reddy and Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla.
In April this year PM Modi gave an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times, which was touted as his first interview to the Indian media(print) after he became PM, Modi spoke to Editor-in-Chief Sanjoy Narayan and Executive Editor Shishir Gupta.
After an aggressive media campaign when he was fighting the elections, PM Modi seems to keep a distance from the media, whilst Jaitley and Shah cultivate important media relationships.
People in the know indicate that the dinner held at the Jaitley residence last week with the nations’ voices of influence could possibly mean a pre-emptive move to one year completion of the Modi Government. It was also said that PM Modi was also present at the party.
Interestingly, just a day prior to Jaitleys’ dinner, former Union Minister Arun Shourie reportedly lashed out at the BJP government, accusing the “trimurti" or “troika” of Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP Chief Amit Shah of monopolizing decision-making. According to media reports, he is said to have also remarked - they( the central government) consists of only three people — Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and party chief Amit Shah, who have “frightened not just the allies but their own group”. Jaitley doesn’t seem to have wasted much time in ensuring the least damage is done as an aftermath of Shourie’s scathing comments.