The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has lodged a formal protest with Washington Post
newspaper for an article critical of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
, terming it as "unethical and unprofessional" conduct of the journalist.
The PMO, in its reaction posted on the US-based newspaper's website, has said the story was "totally one-sided" as the journalist "never" got in touch with the PMO for its version.
In a separate but related development The Washington Post
on its part has offered a correction to the original story
An earlier version of this article failed to
credit the Caravan, an Indian magazine, for two statements that it
originally published in 2011. The assertion by Sanjaya Baru, a former
media adviser, that Singh had become an object of ridicule and endured
the worst period in his life first appeared in the Caravan, as did an
assertion by Ramachandra Guha, a political historian, that Singh was
handicapped by his “timidity, complacency and intellectual dishonesty.”
While both men told The Post that the assertions could accurately be
attributed to them, the article should have credited the Caravan when it
used or paraphrased the remarks.
The article has been updated.
The full texts of the letter sent by the PMO to the Washington Post and its response are given below, as taken from the daily's website:
Letter from the PMO:
We do not complain about criticism of the government which
is a journalist’s right. But I am writing this letter for pointing out
unethical and unprofessional conduct at your part.
I would like to put on record my complaint about your article which was published today on many counts:
— Despite all lines of conversations open, you never got in
touch with us for our side of the story though you regularly talk to me
about information from the PMO. This story thus becomes totally one
— You have been telling the media here in India that your
request for an interview was declined though the mail below says clearly
that the interview was declined “till the Monsoon Session” of the
Parliament which gets over in two days.
— When I rang you up to point this out, you said sorry twice though you tell the media here that you never apologised.
— Your website where we could have posted a reply is still
not working, 11 hours after you said sorry the third time for its
— The former Media Adviser to the PM Dr Sanjaya Baru has
complained that you “rehashed and used” an 8 month old quote from an
We expected better from the correspondent of the Washington Post for fair and unbiased reporting.
Without going into your one sided assessment of the Prime
Minister’s performance, as comment is free in journalism, I hope you
will carry this communication in full in your paper and your website so
your readers can judge for themselves what is the truth.
Communications Adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office
New Delhi - India
Response from Simon Denyer, author of the article and WaPo's India bureau chief:
Thanks for your comments. I wanted to respond point-by-point:
— I requested an interview with the PM on three occasions, and also
with T.K.A Nair, Advisor to the Prime Minister, and with Pulok
Chatterji, Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office. Those
requests were either ignored or declined.
— When I made my final request for an interview with the PM in July,
I was told on July 30 “The PM has declined all interview requests till
the Monsoon session is over.” At that stage the current session of
parliament (known as the Monsoon session) of parliament had not even
begun. There was no mention of the possibility of an interview
afterwards. In any case my story touches on the fact that parliament has
been adjourned every day throughout the current session by opposition
calls for the PM to resign, which is a story I felt should be told,
interview or not.
Indeed, we remain extremely interested in speaking to the prime minister.
— My apology was for the fact that the website was down and the PM’s
office could not post a reply directly. As soon as the problem was
fixed, I informed them. I stand by the story.
— I spoke to Dr Baru personally on the telephone during the
reporting for the story. He confirmed that these sentiments were