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An honest minister and a journalist

An honest minister and a journalist

Author: Virendra Kapoor
Publication: The Free Press Journal
Date: September 1, 2002

The Union Minister for Tourism and Culture, Jagmohan, has a bone to pick with, the media. He thinks the media is superficial and, worse, hypocritical, refusing to see. Its own failings. The minister's ire was aroused by a report the other day in the capital's leading daily which suggested that he had allotted plots of land to certain organisations in order to curry favour with the RSS. Jagmohan denies it and blames a journalist working for the said paper for planting' the said report. Curiously, when he held a press conference to make the same charge against the journalist concerned, the media blacked it out, in the mistaken belief that journalists are accountable to none. So here is what Jagmohan had to say about the journalist in question and why he targets the minister who deservedly enjoys a clean reputation.

According to Jagmohan, when he was the Minister for Urban Development he came to know that the said journalist had been in illegal occupation of a government house for close to a decade. The house in question was allotted to the journalist's father upon whose death it was allotted to his mother since both were government employees. But when both his parents died, instead of vacating the house, he continued to occupy it. Despite several eviction notices, he refused to move out. However following the Supreme Court order for the eviction of journalists from government houses, the said journalist's case again came to the Ministry's notice.

And it turned out that the fellow had not even paid the usual market rent - which is about 40 per cent less than the open market rate - for close to a decade. His cumulative rental arrears now totaled nearly Rs Nine lakhs. When the ministry demanded the payment, the journalist sought remission of arrears, and what is more, wanted the house allotment to be regularised in his own name. At his request, senior Delhi BJP leaders pleaded his case with Jagmohan, but to no avail. Jagmohan noted on the file that he could not neither allot the house to him nor write off the arrears as it would become a costly precedent. Since then, the Minister insists, the said journalist has been misusing his position in the paper to attack him with malicious intent. The Minister's complaint against the journalist with the Press Council was pending, but such is the 'conspiracy of silence' within the media that no one was interested in taking note of his seemingly valid grievance!

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