National

Modi plays game with mediamen for Gujarat Media Club

This year began with a very positive note for the Gujarat Media Club. There was news that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had agreed to give land to Gujarat Media Club. Many took it with a pinch of salt. The reason was obvious, the anti-media image of Narendra Modi.

There were reasons to believe it. The involvement of heavy weight journalist Uday Mahurkar who is considered quite close to the chief minister was a strong indication that the deal for the land would ultimately come through. It was a big thing. The GMC does not have its own building even today.

Many started spinning stories about the location of the land. Some said it would be on the riverfront while others claimed that it would be off SG Highway. Both are excellent locations. However, none was willing to say the exact location. Ultimately, friends who had been to the office of the Chief Minister for the land project started saying that Modi had told them that the land and its location should be left to him. Such a stand by Modi was not surprising. He is known to respond like this. But the story of meeting with Modi is quite intriguing, woven in the interplay of basic human traits of ego. Our friends say that the CM had offered land off SG Highway. However, some friends wanted it to be on the riverfront. Someone even remarked that a place on the rooftop of a building on the riverfront will also do.

But Modi made it clear that journalists should forget about it. Riverfront is the most cherished and publicized dream of the CM. He wants to turn Ahmedabad into something like Thames with river passing through the city. The work on the project is going on. The implementation of the project sent prices of land on the riverfront sky rocketing.

One of the friends who was present at the meeting remarked very aptly- never look a gift horse in the mouth. Take what you get and then make another better demand. However, the real story was at the annual dinner of the Club, an event when the new team takes over from the old one. All gather over dinner. I must say, the most interesting part of this annual meeting is the sumptuous dinner!

Modi was the Chief Guest this time. Not just word but lots of stories floated around about GMC getting land and Modi to make formal announcement about it at the meeting. The meeting was held under the charismatic aura of Modi. The presence of members and others was notable. Before Modi, outgoing President Uday Mahurkar and the new President Ajay Umath spoke. It all was praise for magnanimous Modi and liberal Modi who, the speakers said, had agreed to give land.

It was like giving thanks a million receipt before the official announcement punctuated by the “modified” commentary of the anchor who also told how her children were all for Modi.

When Modi got his turn, he just said that the land for GMC was no problem for him. He repeated this number of times. But he cautioned GMC about its future plans. He focused on the families of journalists. In his disarming style he warned journalists that he would rule over them from their kitchen. He later spent about half an hour with the kids of journalists. But never did he formally make an announcement about land to the Gujarat Media Club. More than six months have passed. No one knows the fate of the land. But the talk of the land has divided Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar media into English press (GMC is known as club of channelwallas) and Gujarati press (dominated by print media) and now different associations and clubs are mushrooming. All have land and several government favours on their agenda.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2011 on page no. 10

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