New I&B Minister Tewari To Address Paid News Issue
New Delhi: Manish Tewari, the newly sworn-in minister of state for information and broadcasting, Monday described paid news as a very grave issue and said efforts would be made to evolve a political consensus on it.
Tewari, who was Congress spokesperson till Saturday, said he met his predecessor Ambika Soni Sunday evening after being given the independent charge of the ministry. “I called on her. In addition to being a former minister, she’s a very senior colleague in the party. So, I went and sought her guidance and blessings,” he said.
Asked about paid news, he said: “I realize the gravity of the situation with regard to paid news, since I have fought two elections. But it is a situation on which we should get a consensus with all parties on the issue.”
Tewari also said his ministry’s job was not to regulate the media, but to ensure a level playing field for everyone.
On the digitization of cable television, which is to be effected in the four metros from Nov 1, Tewari said the roadmap had been laid for the process and he would meet the officials looking into it.
He refused to comment on reports that some ministers were unhappy with their portfolios. “I think that is above my pay grade… the contours of the cabinet reshuffle fall within the ambit of the Congress president and the prime minister, and I don’t want to comment,” he said.
He also refused to comment on Arvind Kejriwal, who has criticized the reshuffle saying that those who were corrupt have been rewarded. Kejriwal has accused Salman Khurshid, who was made external affairs minister, of financial impropriety, a charge the minister has rejected.
On the India Against Corruption activist, Tewari said he did not want to start his first day “on an adversarial note, and my views and approach are very, very apart (from Kejriwal’s)”.
He also refused to comment on the upcoming reshuffle in the Congress party, saying the party chief Sonia Gandhi is the one to decide on it.
Jaipal Reddy Not Unhappy With New Ministry
New Delhi: Dismissing claims that he was unhappy with his new charge, newly-appointed Science and Technology Minister S. Jaipal Reddy Monday said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took him into confidence about the change in his portfolio. “The prime minister took me into confidence about the change in my portfolio and that was enough for me. I have never in my life haggled or bargained for portfolios,” he said.
In the cabinet reshuffle Sunday, Jaipal Reddy was transferred from the crucial petroleum ministry to the science and technology ministry. M. Veerappa Moily succeeded him as the new petroleum minister. “It has been my effort to be a faithful partyman under a truthful (prime) minister and that shall be my focus and that has been my focus,” said Jaipal Reddy.
Asked whether he was given a reason for his removal from the petroleum ministry, Jaipal Reddy said: “No minister is ever told about the reason and I think the PM should not give the reason for change in a portfolio.”
He added that he had an “excellent” relationship with the prime minister and that he had always been shown affection by him. “I don’t take positions on portfolios and all my life I have taken ideological positions on issues… I’ve no regrets about portfolios,” said Jaipal Reddy.
Asked why he did not personally hand over the charge to Moily, he said he was busy learning about his new ministry. “I told the secretary that I will come at five (p.m.) as I wanted to understand about this department. I am a student of social science, not of natural science so I needed time. I am not an officer to hand over charge,” he said, adding, “When I took over as petroleum minister, I did not let Murli Deora give charge to me. Moily came to see me…you are free to indulge in your imagination.”
The minister said that the science ministry was very important because it works in the areas of fundamental research. “I believe in the philosophy and the technology of science. I ardently share (former prime minister Jawaharlal) Nehru’s admiration for science and technology and offer my salutation to him for having laid the foundation of science and technology in the country”.
The minister said that he aims to increase the number of scientific researchers from present 154,000 to 254,000 in the 12th Plan period.
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