Minister of Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore today called "misleading" a news report which alleged that the BJP-led central government was planning to hire private agencies for keeping tabs on all media platforms as part of its preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Citing a tender floated by the government's Press Information Bureau to invite proposals from external agencies for "media aggression, analysis and feedback services" with regard to print, electronic, online and social media, the article published on news website The Print yesterday questioned whether the BJP was using government resources to source inputs for the party's poll campaign. It also indicated that such measures could be termed as snooping.
In a videographed rebuttal posted on Twitter, Mr Rathore did not deny the plan but claimed that similar contracts for collating information on the print and electronic media were floated on earlier occasions too. The clip shows him making the statement walking down an unpaved path.
"Social media is the only thing that's new about this contract. Social media is very critical today, and therefore, the government wants to know what's happening on it. The government wants to listen to the voice of the people on the public domain to see where it is lacking, and which policies need rectification," he said.
The minister rejected claims that the contract was being floated with an eye on the Lok Sabha elections, or that it amounted to snooping. "Snooping means being privy to information that's not public. This is a contract -- a tender -- for collecting information which is there in the newspapers, in the electronic media and on the social media. Information circulated on social media platforms is not private," he said, accusing the media of unjustifiably blaming the government in whatever it does.
"If the government doesn't listen to you, you say the government doesn't listen to you. If the government does listen to you, you say that the government is snooping on you," Mr Rathore said.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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