It has been almost 100 days since the Bharatiya Janata Party achieved its highest-ever tally of seats in a Lok Sabha election, and one significant change in the party’s functioning can be detected under the new order of authority: its official channels of communication have largely been silenced.

Before the election results were out on May 16, the party would hold official press briefings every alternate weekday, much like its rival, the Congress. Since then, they have held only two official press conferences. In this same period Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah have established themselves at the top of the party’s new power hierarchy. As is clear from their time in power in Gujarat, their preferred method of disseminating information is rather different.

It took more than a month after the results for the BJP to hold its first press conference. On June 20, spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain addressed the press at the party’s headquarters at 11 Ashoka Road. Chatting informally after the briefing, he told gathered journalists that the party would resume its pre-election interactions with the press shortly.

But the BJP once again slid into silence. This second spell of quiet was broken only last week, on August 20. During its long spell out of power, the party used to use these formal press conferences to express its official position on issues of national and international importance. Meanwhile, the Congress has continued its practice of holding regular media briefings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at its office on 24 Akbar Road.

Single-window system

Political observers, both inside and outside the Sangh Parivar, say that this is a step towards developing a single-window system for the flow of information from the party as well as the government.

“How can the party speak unless Modiji permits it?” asks a BJP leader, preferring to remain anonymous. “And what is the point when Modiji has himself taken upon himself the responsibility of giving out information to the press?” he added.

This is not to say that these two official press briefings were the only occasions when the BJP invited the media to listen to it. On June 9, press persons were formally invited to cover Birsa Munda Jayanti at the party headquarters. On July 6, they were invited to the launch of a website by party leaders Rajnath Singh and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. On August 8, party leaders including JP Nadda and Naqvi talked to the press regarding the party’s day-long national council, which was to be held on August 9 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Yet it is worth noting that the party leaders did not take official questions from the press on any of these occasions, preferring to provide a Modi-style monologue instead.

In addition, the BJP has held a few informal briefings, though not more than half a dozen in the last 100 days.

Even the union ministers who have to spend two hours at party headquarters in rotation everyday – as per Modi’s diktat – are available only for party members. They are not supposed to talk to the media.