First Reaction to PM Modi’s Times Now Interview
PM Modi has finally decided to talk to the media. He has already done a few interviews and there is reason to believe that he would find the time to talk to other channels as well – and particularly the channels that are bent upon challenging the government’s policies and actions and asking embarrassing questions. These journalist who are branded as ‘intellectuals’, ‘secular’, ‘liberal’ and ‘anti-nationals’ are expected to not act as speed breakers in the creation of a ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ under the leadership of PM Modi who has been working hard on his ‘Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas’ agenda.
Most of the Indian media seems to be in awe of the present-day leadership of the ruling party. It’s being awe-struck is not because its fortunes have changed after the BJP government came to power or some objective assessment of the performance of the government that it has carried out. It is almost like the admiration-driven respect that the illiterate and poor rural woman has for her husband who is a peon and tells her stories about how important and respected he is in office.
The questions that were put to the PM in the last interview only gave him an opportunity to talk about what he had achieved and what he was planning to do. Not a single question was asked that would, at least, give the viewers an impression that he had to go on to the back foot. It was like watching Virat Kohli hitting a Mohalla team spinner for sixes and the bowler deriving happiness from the fact that got an opportunity to bowl to Virat. There is no reason to question the integrity of the interviewers. They were asking questions and in a manner that they thought that they should ask the Prime Minister of the country. However, the capability and conviction of the TV journalists is suspect. The Prime Minister of the country cannot and should not be grilled in an interview but interesting questions can be asked and these should reflect the concerns of the people of the country. The entire job of the interviewers seemed to be asking questions that would give the guest the opportunity to talk about his personal/government’s achievements.
The PM is of the opinion that employment is increasing in the informal sector and gave some deductive rationale for the same. Why cannot some GOI agency – if it has not been done already – put together the increasing or decreasing number of unemployment in the country and that number becomes the basis of the debate. Why should the PM of the country have to draw inferences from the number of new EPF accounts opened or assume that increasing level of road construction and electrification would have provided increased employment. God knows what the hundreds of statisticians in the various ministries are doing. He strongly believes that India’s image has improved internationally and the Indian passport holder is looked at differently now. This is nothing but yet another attempt – based on no recorded evidence – to generate the nationalistic pride in people which seems to be the exclusive right of the BJP. BJP and nationalism are synonymous and this by inference means that anyone who does not support BJP is not a nationalist. The other interesting point that the PM made was that it is his duty to project India at the Global level and that the world has started looking at us differently and he said that the increase in FDI was an indicator. Probably, that has happened. A good thing and we need to celebrate. But, at the same time there is reason to introspect and figure out what we need to be doing different and better at the domestic level that would help us to reach a level of performance that speaks for itself and for which our PM does not have hove go hopping from one country to the other on this huge international PR exercise. Times Now viewers came to know that when PM Modi speaks of ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ he does not mean working towards ensuring congress is thrown out of power in all states. He means that the culture that Congress has nurtured and which has even travelled to other parties needs be gotten rid off – he neither disclosed nor elaborated on the cultural fault-list of the Congress. Wish he had communicated this to his party leaders and workers as well. He said that even the Congress – along with the other parties – should become ‘Congress Mukt’. This must be the biggest spiritual call that has been made by any politician ever since man evolved as a political animal. It was heartening to note that a populist last full budget of the term of the present government was not something that he is in favour of and that the Budget is prepared by the Finance Minister and that he has no say in that. If the PM can announce schemes – that are meant for the under-privileged and are, at the same time populist – and these are Budget supported and the FM provides the resources for the same, is one expected to believe that the FM is not driven by any populist compulsions. The PM even used the opportunity to address the audiences in Pakistan on the issue of how the two nations should be working together to eradicate poverty, ill-health, etc. If BJP and the Government have shown little respect for people-to-people initiatives between the two countries, there is little – in fact no – reason for the PM to people in Pakistan reach-out program being launched.
However, PM Modi took the right stand on letting the Judiciary finding a solution to the problem that it is faced with, giving some seemingly good reasons for holding the State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections together and elaborating on why the Congress should not take a confrontationist approach on GST since it has been a party through the design and implementation process. He, also, deserves praise for accepting some responsibility on the state of affairs of farmers and talked at length about the programs that have been launched to address their issues.
The interview was yet another session of Man Ki Baat but this time it was in a Q and A format. Look forward to the day when the PM would face the undesirable but ‘real’ media and emerge victorious as a politician and a statesman and hope that on that day he would not do what he did to Karan Thapar some years back.