May 30, 2020
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PM's Magazine
IN the 25 years I have been editor, I have never asked the prime minister of India for an interview. I don't say this in any boastful way; I merely record a fact. However, since the bjp-led coalition came to power, I have made numerous attempts, both formal and informal, to get 20 minutes of Mr Vajpayee's precious time. The prime minister's media advisors have made polite but empty promises. Some time ago, I met Atal Behari Vajpayee at a Rashtrapati Bhawan lunch. He was characteristically candid when I requested him to "spare some time". "What is there to say? When I have something to say I will definitely call you," he laughingly observed. After the Pokhran blasts, Mr Vajpayee did agree to give me an interview, but at the last minute he changed his mind.

Meanwhile, our esteemed and honourable rival, India Today, seems to get interviews with him at will. Perhaps Mr Vajpayee feels that since India Today's circulation is higher than Outlook's, he should give interviews to a publication that disseminates his thoughts widely and offers him maximum coverage.

Am I envious of the special access our esteemed and honourable rival has in the corridors of the pmo? Possibly, but I would advise Mr Vajpayee's image builders not to put all their eggs in one basket. One of the fundamental and elementary rules of good public relations is to try and convert not 'friends' but 'enemies'. I use the two words loosely because Outlook is not always hostile to Mr Vajpayee while India Today is not always an uncritical admirer. Nevertheless, to blank us out completely is counter-productive and reflects poorly in a professional sense on those who advise Mr Vajpayee in these matters.

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