New Delhi : Senior television journalist Pankaj Pachauri was Thursday named communication advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office. In no time, the veteran Harish Khare resigned as media advisor to Manmohan Singh saying he was returning to the “joys of journalism”.
An official statement said the prime minister was “pleased to announce the appointment with immediate effect of Pankaj Pachauri as Communications Advisor in the PMO”.
Pachauri, managing editor of NDTV India, will report to Pulok Chatterjee, the Principal Secretary to the prime minister.
He will advise on communicating the governments programmes, policies and achievements to the media and the public at large, particularly using the electronic, print and new and social media, said the PMO.
The 48-year-old Pachauri has straddled both the print and electronic media with ease. His career includes stints in BBC in London and India Today. But he is better known as the face of Hindi TV journalism.
Hours after Pachauri’s appointment, Khare, a former Chief of Bureau of The Hindu and a seasoned political commentator, resigned as media adviser to Manmohan Singh.
Khare, 65, had replaced Sanjaya Baru in June 2009 soon after the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance began its second innings.
Khare told some television channels that he was quitting his PMO job for the “joys of journalism.”
The appointment of Pachauri comes at a time when the UPA government is battling an image crisis, with its credibility taking a knock after a spate of scams that cast a shadow over some senior ministers.
Informed sources said Khare decided to resign as Pachauri was reporting directly to the principal secretary, indicating his own authority had been eroded.
Pachauri was given the rank of additional secretary while Khare enjoyed the rank of special secretary.
This is the first time a journalist from the electronic media has been put in charge of the government’s communications strategy, indicating the increasing importance of 24×7 media.