Annie Gowen, staff writer for the Washington Post caused a huge embarrassment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday with her tweet informing that private PR companies representing Indian government had approached them twice in ‘recent weeks.’
We have been contacted twice in recent weeks by private PR companies representing Indian govt. officials. Good use of govt funds? @PMOIndia
— Annie Gowen (@anniegowen) November 27, 2015
Modi’s detractors have been quick to interpret it as the government’s attempt to ‘manipulate’ the foreign media. The centre’s BJP government has always been accused of dictating editorial decisions of Indian media through various means including luring them with financial benefits. This has led to severe loss of credibility for media in India.
Twitter users suspect that Gowen’s extraordinary revelation is a sign that the government is now using similar tactics against foreign media too.
Foreign media has been very critical of Modi’s style of functioning and his performance in recent months. Big international news brands such as Washington Post, New York Times and Guardian have carried several articles and editorials unfavourable to PM Modi.
Here are few recent headlines carried by Washington Post in in the last couple of months.
‘Indian Prime Minister Modi cried at Facebook. Here’s why.’ on 28 September
‘Modi makes a lot of overseas trips, but is he a diplomatic failure with India’s neighbors?’ on 23 September
‘Mark Zuckerberg made a big mistake when he got between India’s Modi and a TV camera’ on29 September
‘India’s Modi wants to woo Silicon Valley, but censorship and privacy fears grow at home’ on 23 September
As expected twitter has been buzzing with conversation on Gowen’s revelation with users dubbing this as Modi Media Gate. The hashtag #ModiMediaGate has been a top trend since Saturday morning.
Here’s a snapshot of twitter conversation;
— Youth Congress (@IYC) November 28, 2015
— Farhan Shah #WithRG (@farhanindian) November 28, 2015
Our mainstream media has been transformed into a Ministry of Propaganda.BJP hucksters masquerading as Journalists . #modimediagate
— INCian (@INCTharoorian) November 28, 2015
— GonnaGetYou (@Als0kn0wnAs) November 28, 2015
#ModiMediaGate is expected from illiterate liar fake govt, which is good at jumlas and managing media on taxpayer money
— Mrutyunjay (@SamratKharavela) November 28, 2015
— Maharashtra Congress (@INCMaharashtra) November 28, 2015
+…the Govt doesn't want to spend on people but rather on PR agencies to influence the foreign media? Misplaced priorities. #ModiMediaGate
— Gaurav Pandhi गौरव पांधी (@GauravPandhi) November 28, 2015
— INC Volunteers (@INCVolunteers) November 28, 2015
— শেখর | شکر (@MangoBwoy) November 28, 2015
जब देश की मिडिया ने इनके झूठे वादे की पोल खोलने की तैयारी की तो विदेशी मीडिया का सहारा लेना शुरु कर दिया #ModiMediaGate
— Raju Sharma (@RajuSharma_) November 28, 2015
— Syed Maqbool (@maqbool_sm) November 27, 2015