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Do People Buy Modi’s “Stage-Managed” Interviews?


24 April 2019

Debashish Maharana


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Bhubaneswar: As BJP’s poster boy-cum-Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seen appearing on a series of selective television interviews nursing high hopes for a consecutively second term in office, critics as well as political analysts allege it to be Modi’s adoption of pick and choose tactics for wooing the voters along with self-aggrandizement.

The latest in the interview series amid the general elections is Modi’s tete-e-tete with Bollywood star Akshay Kumar.

Earlier among others was “PM Modi's Q&A Session in London with Prasoon Joshi” (an Indian lyricist, screenwriter, poet and marketer as well as CEO of McCann World group India and Chairman). The event was broadcast live from the iconic Central Hall Westminster in London April 18, 2018.  

Earlier, he had his rendezvous with his allegedly selected national news channels and interviewers where he could allegedly dictate his own terms.

Web news portal ‘The Quint’ on the very day of the wide telecast carried reactions of twitterati captioned: “A Mockery Of Journalism: Twitter Slams Akshay Kumar-Modi Interview”.

It quoted activist Kavita Krishnan saying, “PM can only do staged, scripted ‘interviews’ with his own bhakt ‘interviewers’. It is a mockery of journalism”.

Journalist Amey Tirodkar has also been quoted by ‘The Quint’ saying that this interview was a glaring example of Modi’s ‘courage’ to face ‘tough’ questions.

One Twitter user has also been quoted saying that calling it a ‘completely non political’ interview to escape the claws of the MCC only showed disrespect for the ECI and democracy.

Filmmaker Rakesh Sharma has also been quoted asking if Election Commission had approved the “promotional interview with candidate Modi, done by a film star to maximise PR/Publicity during polls.”

Talking to OMMCOM NEWS, senior journalist and political analyst Rabi Das reacted, “Aim and objective is to boost up his image. He has been Prime Minister of this country for the last five years, but he hasn’t addressed media as ought to be once in a year. A Prime Minister has to address annually all the media persons at Delhi and respond to their queries. Till date, he hasn’t done it during his term of five years.”

He opined, “He gives interviews to certain journalists, who are well-known to him as his fans. Through Akshay Kumar, he seeks to create an image. He very well knows that there isn’t any alternative leadership to compete with him. His one point agenda is to boost up his image.”

“He very well knows if he convenes a press meet, the queries volleyed by the journalists could lay bare his blatant lies told to the people. That’s why, he is avoiding and shying away from following that path. I think, he is the first ever Prime Minister in the history of India who hasn’t convened even a single press meet during his full five years of tenure. The media that is supporting to boost up his image, he is confined to giving interview to them only,” remarked the senior scribe.

Another senior journalist and political expert Prabhukalyan Mohapatra commented, “Its only aim is the election in a bid to be close to the people.”

Yet another senior journalist and columnist Sandeep Sahu stated, “It is clear that when he chooses a journalist for his interview, it is being ensured that the journalist wouldn’t ask him questions so that it could put it in an embarrassing situation. If he allow others, his 2014 promises will be raised. Thus, he has chosen this path so that he reaches the people and there won’t be any problem.”

He opined, “He knows that Akshay Kumar has a huge fan following and giving such an interview during election will attract those who aren’t even keen on political affairs.”

“During his tenure of five years in office, the Prime Minister has already put straight that he believes in one-way communication. For instance, his Maan Ki Baat. Whatever he speaks, the people simply listen to. Not only this, whatever interviews he has given earlier, they are all stage-managed. Even the Prime Minister’s Office has set the questions to be asked in those interviews telecast earlier,” remarked the senior scribe. 

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Rabi Das, Senior Journalist

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Prabhukalyan Mohapatra, Senior Journalist

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Sandeep Sahu, Senior Journalist