For this reason, he chose live TV press conference: Congress

A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's televised press conference, the sense in the Congress was that he achieved what he had set out to. Party sources told The Hindu that he wanted to get his message across to the people, undiluted and without any mediator, and that was why he chose a live televised press conference.

“The Prime Minister chose television deliberately,” a functionary said, “so that his message would be the way he wanted it to be. Live television is better than the print media, because the message that emanates from the latter is subject to interpretation and its manner of dissemination.”

Elaborating, another functionary said: “The Prime Minister's core audience is the middle class. And his message went out yesterday [Wednesday] to the TV-watching middle class not just in the metros but also in the smaller towns, where cable TV is available.”

Many people in the Congress feel that since the key point Dr. Singh was making was that he intended dealing with all wrongdoers firmly, it was a message that needed to go out to the middle class. For, corruption is a major issue for this group.

With the party bracing itself for what could be another difficult session of Parliament, there was also a sense that there was need to close ranks.

Congress media committee chairperson Janardan Dwivedi, asked whether the party was happy with Dr. Singh's comment that he would like a cohesive party to back the government, said: “The party is completely with the Prime Minister and agrees fully with what he has said.”

Party spokesperson Manish Tewari described Dr. Singh's performance as “excellent, lucid, to the point, statesmanlike, candid and forthright.”

Sending out an undiluted message — that there had been wrongdoing, but that the guilty would be punished — was also necessary, party sources said, since all corrective action the government had taken in recent months on the 2G spectrum scam, the Commonwealth Games fiasco and the Adarsh society fiddle was dismissed by the Opposition and underplayed by the media.

More action coming

In the coming days, more action will be seen, the sources said. On Thursday, for instance, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily announced that the Cabinet Committee on Security decided to annul the Antrix-Devas deal.

Repeating the message, Defence Minister A.K. Antony told journalists that the controversial S-Band spectrum deal was a mistake. Blaming the Indian Space Research Organisation for the contract, he said the government had corrected it by cancelling the pact.

Simultaneously, the Central Bureau of Investigation has speeded up probe into the 2G spectrum scam, with major telecom players being questioned virtually everyday.

Nervousness still

However, there is still nervousness in the Congress that even though it has agreed to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the scam, the Opposition — particularly the Bharatiya Janata Party — may not keep its part of the bargain. The party is keeping its fingers crossed and hoping that the budget session will pass off peacefully.

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