It’s yet another tale of changing regimes and taking credit for a work. The state-of-the-art National Media Centre (NMC), inaugurated by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 24 last year, got a new addition to its façade on Tuesday. The entrance to the NMC now sports a black stone stating the “foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on December 5, 2001”. At that time, it was called the National Press Centre.
Incidentally, the plaque carrying Manmohan’s name was mounted on a moveable stand and used to be placed at the reception area. Now, it has been removed.
According to sources, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javdekar, whose office is located at the Shastri Bhavan, visited NMC for the first time on Tuesday morning. NMC is under the jurisdiction of the I&B ministry.
The minister noticed that plaque with Vajpayee’s name was placed in one of the inner rooms. The stone also had names of former Home Minister L K Advani, former I& B Minister Sushma Swaraj and former Urban Development Minister Ananth Kumar. The minister gave strict instructions that the foundation stone had to be placed in front of the building latest by that evening.
NMC, built at a cost of Rs 60 crore, was jointly inaugurated by Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi last year.
A major part of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) has shifted from the cramped Shastri Bhavan premises to NMC. Most PIB officials and staff feigned ignorance about what had transpired between the minister and officials, saying they hardly used the main entrance of the building.
Despite persistent queries, nobody seemed to know where the plaque with Manmohan’s name had disappeared.
Only a handful of officials did say the UPA should also have been given its due credit.
Ironically, while the foundation stone mentions the name of the institution as ‘National Press Centre’, the name atop the building mentions it as ‘National Media Centre’. This left many wonder whether the change of regime means a change of name of the institution.
HRD media interaction U-turn
The new regime, going by evidence on the ground, has preferred to keep the media at arm’s length. The HRD ministry on Wednesday first issued an invite requesting the media to be present at the release of DISE District Information System’s for Education annual statistical report. Within an hour, the PIB issued another message withdrawing the invite stating “it was not open to the media”. In the past, HRD ministers have interacted with the media when releasing the report. Sources disclosed the HRD minister ostensibly did not want media to be called for the release in the first place and, hence, the PIB’s hasty retreat. HRD minister Smriti Irani has not had any significant interaction with the media, since the time she took over.