‘I answer questions in Parliament’: PM Modi on avoiding press meets

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an interview given to India Today/Aaj Tak, explained this while four anchors sat smilingly and unquestioningly across him.
‘I answer questions in Parliament’: PM Modi on avoiding press meets
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Narendra Modi has been prime minister for 10 years and part of his legacy is that he’s never held a press conference. 

It’s a dubious honour that’s constantly brought up and the man himself has finally explained why – it’s probably the media’s fault.

Modi gave India Today/Aaj Tak an “exclusive” interview as part of his blitzkrieg of “exclusive” interviews to other media houses. The media house dedicated not one but four top anchors to sit smilingly with him – Rahul Kanwal, Sudhir Chaudhary, Sweta Singh and Anjana Om Kashyap. 

Let us also quote exactly what India Today said in its text story about Modi’s interview: “Straight talk was the need of the hour, and the PM did exactly that on India Today TV. A picture of calm and poise, and of occasional humour, he answered the toughest questions with a smile, and gave us a peek into his vision.”

Nice. But we’ll focus strictly on what he said about press conferences.

Kanwal asked why Modi doesn’t hold press conferences. The PM said he has “never refused” and “most of the media has been used in a way” – “that [politicians] don’t do anything, control them [media], and it will be broadcast across the country”. 

“I don’t want to go on that path. I want to work hard. I want to reach poor people’s doorsteps,” he said.

“I can also cut ribbons at Vigyan Bhavan and take photos. I don’t do that,” said the PM to whom the media dedicated days for his inauguration of the new Parliament and the consecration of the Ram Mandir. “...I brought a new culture. If that culture is right, then the media should present it in the right way.”

The four anchors clustered around him said nothing. 

“Secondly, I am answerable to Parliament. I will answer all questions in the Parliament,” Modi said. 

The four anchors clustered around him said nothing.

“Thirdly, the media is not what it used to be,” Modi said. “Because I used to talk to Aaj Tak. But now the audience knows that I am talking to Rahul. Who is Rahul? He tweeted this thing earlier which means he writes in Modi’s favour. Which means he will say the same thing.”

Rahul Kanwal beamed. 

“Today, the media is not a separate entity,” Modi continued. “You have also aired your views like many people and now they know it. Earlier the media was faceless…There was only one source of communication earlier and the media was everything. Today, you have to talk to the public. There is two-way communication. The public can also speak without the media.”

He also said that if there are “black flags” at any of his events, “then only it will be published in the newspaper that Modiji came here”.

Rahul Kanwal chuckled. 

The PM also seemed to suggest he didn’t care what the channels said about him and that he only felt proud that there were 900 Indian channels in various languages. 

Modi told a jolly anecdote about a villager in Gujarat telling him his village had 24 hours of electricity. Then he, Modi, said the source must be “lying” because it was “neither on the radio, nor the TV, nor in the newspapers”. And the villager replied that the media wouldn’t tell him about it – presumably suggesting that the media doesn’t care enough to chat about Modi’s accomplishments?

The four anchors tittered.

The shame must run deep for them, though. Here they are, giving the PM unlimited airtime to say whatever he likes, and he tells them how flawed the media is, and they smile in response because what else do you expect them to say?

This article was originally published in NewsLaundry. Read the original article here.

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