Media is the villain, think Games organisers (Capital Buzz)

August 8th, 2010 - 5:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Mani Shankar Aiyar New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Deadlines are not the only battle on the Commonwealth Games organising committee’s hands. A question looming large is how to contain the media that has been relentless in pursuing corruption allegations, often to the exclusion of every other aspect of the Games.
After lengthy meetings, the committee decided that its members - most of them seasoned mediapersons themselves - would be proactive and stop “irresponsible” TV channels from getting away with unsubstantiated charges and creating the wrong impression in people’s minds, both inside and outside of the country.

Rajya Sabha MP and Congress leader Rajiv Shukla suggested that five members of the committee go on air to explain the committee’s position. Eventually, committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi himself went studio hopping in an attempt to clear the air of charges of financial misappropriation.

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God is with Games?

If there is one man who doesn’t appear ruffled by the raging controversies surrounding the October Commonwealth Games, it’s Sports Minister Manohar Singh Gill.

In his characteristic witty way, he tried to disarm opposition MPs and fellow-Congress members - the irrepressible Mani Shankar Aiyar at that - by telling them that god and nationalism would take care of the delays and alleged corrupt deals.

“Have faith in India. India will get there….God is with us,” Gill said as member after member expressed doubts over the country’s readiness to host the Games.

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Dikshit’s media ducking

With the media waiting for her reactions on corruption allegations related to the Delhi Commonwealth Games, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was asked by her cabinet colleagues to make a fast exit at a press conference.

But she turned back saying: “Unse darti hun kya (Do I fear them)?” She then launched a charm offensive and turned a good host, asking mediapersons individually to have refreshments.

At another function the next day, she saw a group of reporters waiting for her. “Oh my god!” she said. Then she literally straightened up, all prepared, and started speaking about the function. And no one dared to ask her a single question on the Games!

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Taming the opposition

Will the monsoon session of parliament, scheduled to conclude Aug 27, get extended by a week? While no one knows for sure, a little birdie says the threat of extension is being used by the government to make the opposition behave.

Talk of extending the session may be a kind of pressure tactic from the government to prevent the opposition from causing frequent disruptions.

Some opposition leaders of course feel the government may indeed push for extending the session if the nuclear liability bill is not passed.

Government sources simply say the decision will depend on the pending business!

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Parliament talks Rahul Mahajan

Reality TV star Rahul Mahajan, who has been in the spotlight for domestic troubles, got wall to wall coverage not just in the Indian media but also in parliament.

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was speaking about the country’s population, but also about the content of the Indian media. “I see them all the time obsessed with one or the other celebrity wedding.

“They want to know about Rahul Mahajan’s wedding. Not just wedding, they accompany them to the honeymoon,” he said, as there was laughter among MPs.

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Needed: passion for tourism ministry

At a send-off party for outgoing tourism secretary Sujit Banerjee, praises were showered on him for his “commitment and vision” to make the sector more viable after the Mumbai terror attack and the economic meltdown.

But the big pat came from Tourism Minister Kumari Selja herself when she said the ministry needed a person who has “passion”.

She said Banerjee was passionate about making the sector more vibrant. Selja also said his wife might be happy, but the ministry would continue to seek his advice and services.

She said this even as incumbent Rajen Habib Khwaja listened quietly!

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Kalmadi the new ‘Shera’

Who is the Commonwealth Games mascot? Suresh Kalmadi or Shera the tiger. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijay Goel thinks it is the former!

At a book release function Goel was at his caustic best. “Kalmadi has become the new mascot of the Commonwealth Games, replacing Shera. Kalmadi is everywhere and the real mascot is nowhere to be seen. Poor Shera is buried under Kalmadi’s weight,” Goel said, as the hall burst into laughter and applause.

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Veterans disapprove Tharoor’s lifestyle

Shashi Tharoor, the former minister of state for external affairs, may be waiting to tie the knot with his third wife, Sunanda Pushkar, a subject of media speculation and society gossip for the last few months, but veteran Kerala politicians are not amused.

Many think that changing spouses so frequently is a Western cultural import and will not sit well with the conservative Malayalee voter and harm the Congress party’s prospects.

Said one party veteran: “In a society steeped in Marxist dogmas, people look up to politicians to set an example in moral values and egalitarian living. Ostenatation and philandering are frowned upon. I don’t know how his constituency (Thiruvananthapuram) will take his (marrying for the third time) ways.”

It remains to be seen who is right: the new-age politician, who thinks his personal lifestyle should have no impact on his public platform, or the starched-white shirt and mundu veteran for whom his public life is merely an extension of his no-frills private living.

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