Wednesday, June 03, 2015

In 2012 Gujarat government "asked" Essar to pay for advertisement praising Modi

MJ Akbar
By Our Representative
In a major revelation, "The Caravan", a journal devoted to politics and culture, has said that Narendra Modi as chief minister of Gujarat had asked in 2012 the top business house Essar to pay for an advertisement-cum-writeup to a Noida-based weekly on Gujarat's development under him. It is quite another thing that the business house politely turned down Modi's plea.
Based on internal emails of Essar, which is a major Indian player in infrastructure and and energy, the journal reveals that the advertisement was to be accompanied by a special supplement. It was meant for "Sunday Guardian", founded by journalist-turned-politician MJ Akbar, currently one of the BJP spokespersons.
The journal suggests, while publishing special supplements on a given topic "as special vehicles for more targeted advertising" on range of topics on industries, events, or specific topics, to those on government bodies is not new, this time a business house was officially asked by a Modi official to do the job.
"The newspaper had approached Essar and offered the company advertising space in the supplement. Interestingly, in its communication with potential advertisers, the newspaper also sent out a letter from the Gujarat information and broadcast department that reiterated the support of the state government to the supplement", the journal said.
The letter, reportedly signed by the principal secretary in the information and broadcasting department, stated, “Here we see an opportunity for our industries, government, corporate, private sector and business houses to be part of this special supplement in promoting our achievements and conveying the message of Gujarat to the readers of this newspaper.”
"The special issue was to coincide with the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on January 8, 2012", the journal says, adding, "Its copies, according to the email exchange, were to be distributed at the BM Birla Auditorium in Jaipur, where an event was being hosted to commemorate the occasion."
The letter is quoted as saying that the supplement would "designate” Modi as the “economic reformer of India, in the mould of the famous architect of economic reform of China, Paramount Leader ‘Deng Xiaoping’.”
The newspaper’s chief operating officer, Kamal Shah, reportedly also wrote to Essar in the supporting letter: “We will also be highlighting that Chief Minister; Mr. Narendra Modi will one day transform India into an economic superpower.” MJ Akbar wrote a separate letter to Shashi Ruia, the chairman and co-founder of the Essar Group, asking for advertisement.
However, Essar “politely declined” to release an advertisement.

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