In the first signs of the “professionalization” of the PR and media management of Congress, Hindustan Times today signaled that it has all but been appointed the official PR mouthpiece of the party. With this, HT wins the race over such worthies like Shekhar Gupta of Indian Express and Vinod Mehta of Outlook, who have both tried very hard in the past ten days to push their candidature.
The first signal that HT was ahead in the race came when it got access to a carefully orchestrated exclusive leaks into the supposed dossier that Pakistan shared with India. How such documents are allowed to pass on to public domain, before being shared with Parliament with no need for anyone to even whisper RTI, beats me.
After all, the headline in today’s print edition: “India fights itself over Balochistan” is as good a piece of spin as any produced by top-notch PR agencies with their soul sold to the highest retainership. The headline attempts the oldest trick of all people of a certain description, to take refuge behind patriotism. Let’s speak with one voice, in foreign policy. Doing anything else is unpatriotic; Pakistanis will find us a house divided.
Says HT: “Unable to quarrel with the philosophy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Pakistan policy of ‘trust but verify’, the Opposition on Thursday focused its criticism on the inclusion of Balochistan in the Indo-Pak joint statement of July 16.” See the words? Opposition has a “quarrel” with the Prime Minister’s “philosophy”.
And, it gets better. The article, written by the “HT political Bureau”, then says: “The government strained to explain its position on Balochistan on a day it found oblique support from US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who refused to endorse the Pakistani position, and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani lauded Singh’s “statesmanship”……” Wah Janaab! So what if our PM is isolated domestically with even the Foreign Secretary conceding the “poor drafting” of the joint-statement? The Prime Minister of Pakistan is lauding his statesmanship. And we are such sticks-in-the mud.
Funnily, you get the feeling as if the entire “political bureau” of the HT sat down and wrote the article; one paragraph per person. In the middle of the article, there are references to the government “straining” to explain its position, a reference to Sushma Swaraj asking “how could a reference to Balochistan advance our national interest?” and Advani’s question on how a unilateral perception of Pakistan get into a joint statement without any mention of India’s position? Maybe there is a BJP mole (or two) in the HT edit team!
It ends with a coverage of Sonia Gandhi’s “carefully worded statement” who “stopped short of defending the (joint) statement“.