CHANDIGARH: Known for its rather sedate approach to journalism, and currently helmed by an old school editor-in-chief in Harish Khare, The Tribune makes waves whenever it shuns the "on-the-one-hand-while-on-the-other-hand" balancing act and takes a call on an issue.
So when its editorial on Wednesday screamed, "Oust Rana Gurjit Singh: Reset the integrity bar high," Captain Amarinder Singh's CMO was singed to the core. Sources in the Punjab Civil Secretariat said on Thursday morning, June 1, Amarinder Singh's Media Advisor Raveen Thukral landed up at Khare's office, armed with what he claimed was a "rebuttal."
The Tribune had days earlier carried the explosive news report about Rana Gurjit Singh's former cook walking away with Rs 26 crore worth of sand mine bid. It followed it up with a series of reports establishing links of the "cook" with the minister, thus stirring the pot. Many political pundits think the government has landed itself in pretty hot soup.
Khare actually told Thukral that the "rebuttal" was rather a
confirmation of what The Tribune had put out.
The editorial was like another helping of this stew, only with a higher Scoville rating, and had brought the CM's media managers to the Tribune's doors.
Khare, who knows the job of a media advisor rather well – he was one to the then premier Manmohan Singh – and has himself been a journalist to reckon with, glanced through the long harangue presented to him as the "rebuttal" and advised the CMO's Man Friday to have it re-written.
Sources privy to and consulted on the issue by one of the sides said Khare actually told Thukral that the "rebuttal" was rather a confirmation of what The Tribune had put out.
Besides, Khare advised that if the "rebuttal" was published in the form in which Advisor Raveen Thukral had brought it to his table, it will, in fact, expose whosoever has written it as inept and completely unaware of what journalism and good political writing is all about.
"Besides, please improve the English and say what you have to say in 300 words. Also, build some logic," a source paraphrased Khare's advice to Thukral.
Interestingly, Khare's experience with media advisors of the Akali Dal and the BJP in the past has not been much different, and they too had returned empty handed and exasperated from the editor-in-chief's office when they took issue with the newspaper group's coverage of their government.
Equal opportunity offender editors have often been hailed as the most balanced ones, and Khare clearly represents that tribe which is almost facing a threat of extinction currently.
Incidentally, Thukral finally submitted a much shorter version of his rebuttal which was eventually published on Friday, June 2, by The Tribune as a letter to the editor among other readers' letters. It is for the readers to judge if the rebuttal did more justice to the queen's language, or carried more logic. As for The Tribune's response, it carried a lead story in Friday's edition, titled, "Cook's company gave loan of Rs 50 lakh to Rana Gurjit," following it up on page 3 with another damning reportage, headlined, "Terms of probe silent on money trail." For good measure, it also listed out six "moot questions". Sources could not confirm if the CMO's group of spin doctors is planning to draft a rebuttal or answers to the moot questions.