PMO has lost the plot. Ministers are better off doing their job
Prasanna Mohanty | May 11, 2011
You are certain that a government is drifting when it actually thinks the drift is a mere public perception that can be countered through media campaigns.
The prime minister’s decision to set up a GoM for better PR of the government is a fine example of this. We are told that home minister P Chidambaram will head it and the members would include Ambika Soni, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Slaman Khursheed, Pawan Bansal and V Narayansamy. The GoM will “meet every day” to analyse the day’s events and brief the media at 3 pm.
Aren’t they better off doing their assigned duty, that is, running the affairs of their ministries well and addressing to people’s concerns?
The PMO seems to have completely lost the plot.
If anyone thinks the government is in a drift, there are sound reasons. For one, the government is beset with scams of huge proportions – IPL, Adarsh, 2G, CWG, Isro spectrum deal, CVC appointment, Niira Radia tapes, black money in secret accounts, cash-for-votes in parliament etc.
Nobody seems to be in charge of the government. Nobody is explaining why all these are happening and what measures, remedial or punitive, are being taken. The prime minister addressed the media once but left none wiser. All he said was that the scams happened either because of “coalition compulsion” or his ignorance.
More importantly, the government has not done anything about it. If some are in jail and many others face such a prospect it is because the supreme court is playing an active role, not the government.
A PR set-up can remove the communication gap. But here we are confronted with a different problem that an improved communication mechanism can’t address - lack of governance.
We need good governance. We need corrective measures. This means, the government has to primarily take two steps - one, to address the systemic shortcomings, like loopholes in our policy framework or the way various wings of the government work at cross-purposes, which let the scams to happen and two, take tough action against those found guilty.
The government is reluctant to do either.
There are other issues too. Food prices have remained high, mostly in double digits, for more than three years in running. All that the government has done is to let the RBI tinker with the lending rates, nothing more. The agriculture minister has not once explained it why. If at all, he bats for the blackmarketeers and horders and periodically tells us how the price of certain item is going to high and for how long. The prime minister and others in the government keep telling us at least twice every year for the past three years that the prices will come down after the kharif and rabi harvesting seasons. Nothing more than that.
Surely, a government is supposed to do better.
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