Montek, Rajdeep lecture Congress spokespersons

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New Delhi, Feb 23 (UNI) The two-day training programme for the 100-odd Congress spokespersons from state units began today with lectures and training sessions by party leaders, management gurus and media personalities.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia spoke on the UPA Government and inclusive economic growth, while young leader Jyothiraditya Scinda lectured on nuclear deal and energy security.

The talk on the Sachar Committee Report and PM's 15-point programme was delivered by AICC Secretary Imran Kidwai.

The Indo-US nuclear deal, the Sachar Committee Report and the Sethusamudram project (to be taken up tomorrow) are three of the important issues the Congress wants its spokespersons to be to conversant with to take on the media war against the Left parties and the BJP in the election year.

Management guru Ujjwal K Chowdhury trained the participants on how to face the visual media, both in single and group appearances.

He also had a training session on customising press releases and video releases for media enterprises, beside one on convergence of media impact for political communication.

CNN-IBN head Rajdeep Sardesai gave a lecture on handling the media, while party's former spokesman Jaipal Reddy conducted a role play session on media strategy on secularism and BJP doublespeak.

According to media reports, Culture Minister Ambica Soni was excluded from the list of speakers and her bete noire Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal invited to give the Party's perspective on the Sethusamudram issue.

The Congress, however, dismissed the reports, saying she could not attend due to her pre-occupations.

''... Mrs Ambica Soni was invited for the media spokespersons' training camp, but could not attend due to prior engagements,'' AICC Secretary (Media) Tom Vadakkan said in a statement.

He also clarified that the speakers and subjects were decided by the media committee and were not vetted by Party President Sonia Gandhi as reported in a section of the press.

Tomorrow, the speakers will include, besides Mr Sibal, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister Shivraj Patil with three training sessions by management guru Prakash Shesh on communication skills, art of listening, body language, and management of time, stress and anger.

UNI YJ RL KN1902

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