Modi has probably dominated more air time than Manmohan Singh has done through his entire first tenure as PM

Voices Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 13:03

Television cameras have followed Narendra Modi’s every move since the time he was announced as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial nominee. Editors and journalists have struggled to stay neutral – neither consider him the villain Congress paints him to be, nor fawn over him like his party and the business and industry lobbies have been openly doing. When his chequered past as the Chief Minister of Gujarat has been glossed over, criticism has come their way in container-loads. If they have been too critical, it was labelled as toeing the Congress’ agenda.

With the elections over and a clear mandate secured, Narendra Modi has had the last laugh – literally. As the 14th Prime Minister of India, we can look forward to Narendra Modi hogging TV airtime unlike his predecessor Dr.Manmohan Singh. In fact, since the morning of 16 May alone – a mere four days later when this piece is being written – Modi has probably dominated more air time than Manmohan Singh has done through his entire first tenure as PM ( which by the way was the more successful one, when he did address the media on occasion)

Ever wondered what makes him such a magnet for the media? Love him, hate him but you can’t ignore him. Why? Here’s why TV cameras zone in on him –

Controversial and Unapologetic – For TV, nothing screams primetime than a controversy! Whip up a controversy, wish away a controversy, muzzle a controversy – In his three terms as chief minister and as the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, Modi has taken a bullet squarely without flinching on his 56”chest (did his tailor reveal that?). The Godhra riots and the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case now appear of another era. Since then there has been Snoopgate allegations, Chaiwala-lower caste controversy and several others.

Vocal and Eloquent – Modi’s eloquence cannot be challenged even by his detractors. Like a slightly awed Bhupendra Chaubey gushed on CNN-IBN after Modi’s speech in the Central Hall of the Parliament – There is no other orator in this new Lok Sabha who can match Modi’s oratory skills. He chooses to wax eloquent or adopt a stony silence strategically. While Rahul Gandhi blundered through interviews and sound bites, Modi whiled away several phases of polls in silence till the crucial final phases, where he picked and chose news channels to talk on issues he wanted to focus on, rather than be bombarded by questions he did not want to tackle.

The Consummate Showman – As television news struggled to find enough information and trivia to fill up ambience chatter over visuals this morning, Narendra Modi took symbolism to higher levels than any PM before him. Modi bending down to touch his forehead to the carpeted steps of the Parliament was just a beginning. On topics discussed ahead of his speech, was the care he paid to being sartorially re-splendent, his special tailor in Ahmedabad to an NRI fan who supplied him with custom-made Italian shoes. I remember seeing Times Of India’s photogallery running unseen photos of Modi with a sensational headline, which were in reality, Modi at a morning yoga session and with a cup of chai (I presume). Manmohan Singh has had (and several predecessors before him too) an equally private personal life. But no one really wanted to know what he was doing when he wasn't walking to 10 Janpath or 7 Janpath or to his office or sitting mannequin still at a Cabinet or Congress Meeting, did they?

Intelligent orator – After over a decade of seeing a Prime Minister and a UPA Chairperson read out speeches in monotone, the masala craving Indian junta (including mediawalas) couldn't help but gape at Narendra Modi’s extempore skills. Effortless, filled with facts (so what if a few got jumbled, people talk and soon forget too!), high on patriotic rhetoric, interactive, with doses of humour and sarcasm and only very subtly plugged promotional messages. He demonstrated today that Prime Minister of India, we can look forward to Narendra Modi hogging TV time. He can turn an emotional stumble during a speech into a moment of strength and commitment, while his predecessor struggled to even read the lines written for him off a teleprompter. He literally scripted his own victory with his savviness before a microphone – be it public rallies or even television mikes.

A Polarising Figure – What is primetime without an Us Versus Them debate? Narendra Modi has since his first anointment as Chief Minister of Gujarat been seen as a man who inspires an ‘Us Versus Them’ discourse. And therefore, his statements, his presence and even his silence have been fodder for several debates.

With his speech on his maiden visit to the Central Hall of the Parliament, Narendra Modi has set the tone for how his years as India’s Prime Minister will be –very public. Just the way, the media loves it

 


 

 

 

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