Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s new Communications Advisor Pankaj Pachauri has already initiated an interesting change in the Prime Minister’s Office, just a couple of days after starting his new job – launching an account for Singh on Twitter.
Pachauri, a TV journalist, was appointed last week with a brief to focus on social media, which has been utilized to good effect to bash the government by social activist Anna Hazare and his team since last year. Several ministries in the United Progressive Alliance government, including the Ministry of External Affairs, have been on Twitter and Facebook for quite some time. The MEA, in particular, used social networking sites during the Libyan crisis last year, with then-Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao using these sites to inform the world about the evacuation status of Indians who were stranded in Libya.
The PMO’s first tweet, uploaded Sunday, was: “‘You make all of us proud’ – PM tells young bravehearts at Bravery Award function.” The tweet also had links to Singh’s speech and photographs of the event. Pachauri is reported to have told PMO staffers manning the Twitter account to give near real-time updates on the prime minister’s program, arguing that the public should know what their head of government is doing for them. Pachauri’s move is also aimed at helping the media follow what is going on with the prime minister’s work. Sources said the PMO would soon be launching other social media accounts, including Facebook.
Pachauri’s predecessor, Harish Khare, also a journalist, resigned last week in exasperation over Pachauri’s induction. Although Khare’s job title was media advisor to the prime minister, Khare was frustrated that Pachauri was asked to report directly to the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterjee, thus creating a parallel power center in the PMO.