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Indian-origin man chief of new media at Downing Street

Sunday November 07, 2010 06:43:51 PM, IANS

London: Rishi Saha, an Indian-origin internet expert who devised a "Pimp My Party" online game for British Prime Minister David Cameron, has been given a 50,000 pounds-a-year post at the Downing Street, a media report said Sunday.

Saha, a former Conservative candidate, is one of a growing number of members of the Cameron's inner circle to be parachuted into plum jobs at Downing Street on the public payroll, Daily Mail reported.

Saha, 30, is "head of new media" with control over its website, the premier's "Webcameron" and other internet projects.

The disclosure of Saha's role follows controversy over the appointment of Andrew Parsons as Cameron's "vanity photographer" -- a proposal first revealed by the Daily Mail on Sunday in June.

The ever-expanding "Cameron clique" at Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, paid for by taxpayers, has led to mounting criticism from Labour and, privately, from some Tory MPs who say the Camerons are falling into the same trap as the image-fixated Blairs, the report said.

Saha is a protege of Cameron's image guru Steve Hilton.

The pair were the driving force behind the campaign to ditch the Tories' old-fashioned style. Shaven-headed Mr Saha, who wears designer jackets, is said to model himself on Hilton.

A Tory spokesman defended the appointments: "All governments do this. These people have worked for the party and do invaluable work for the government. Rishi Saha is an invaluable member of the team."

Saha was director of the modernising "Wave" network of young Tories, entering politics after working for youth charities.

He once promoted hip-hop nights at clubs in Nottingham and transformed the stuffy Tory Winter Ball, moving its venue from the staid Grosvenor House hotel on London's Park Lane to Old Billingsgate and promoting it with the slogan "So hip it hurts".

Saha stood for the Tories in Brent South in the 2005 general election, coming third in a seat won easily by Labour.

His projects include the "Pimp My Party" online game, a parody of the MTV show "Pimp My Ride".

It presented the pre-Cameron Tory Party as a "clapped-out old banger" and challenged activists to update its image.

Saha said of the game: "Young people do not give a stuff. They are not interested in politics. This is kind of fun and wacky and left-field so it gets people interested."






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