Congress took this opportunity to lambaste the PM and called the interview “fixed”. One MP even commented that the questions put to Modi “were more in the nature of feeding rather than grilling the prime minister”.
Calling Narendra Modi’s interview full of rhetoric, Congress allegedly asserted that the countdown of Modi’s exit has started. The controversy broke out when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused of being afraid of Media. The full scenario folded out on New Year’s Day when news agency Asia News International – ANI received heavy criticism after their interview with PM Narendra Modi went live. The agency received a fair amount of ridicule with the interview being called as “scripted” and “manufactured” by many journalists.
Since Modi has taken the throne in 2014, the Indian media has been grumbling about the lack of access to him. Not a single press conference has been held by him and in the very few interviews which have taken place, the journalists haven’t been able to ask difficult questions or failed to challenge Modi over his answers.
This interview has gone beyond the media splashing Modi’s inability to face media everywhere. In a recent press conference, the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi compared himself to Indian PM about how he, in contrast, is more accessible to media and ready to take more challenging and spontaneous questions. He also gave a very controversial statement stating that“[Modi] does not have the guts to come and sit in front of you” and also called the ANI interview staged, and the interviewer “pliable”.
Randeep Surjewala, Congress chief spokesperson gave a heated interview at a press conference saying that, “The monologue interview of Modi ji turned out to be much ado about nothing. It was about I, me, mine, myself…Modiji, your ‘I’s and lies’ have destroyed the social fabric and the economy of the country, trampling upon Constitutional institutions as also rights of individuals.”
Former PM Manmohan Singh, who had been always criticized and targeted by Narendra Modi when he was in opposition and even called out The silent PM by Modi commented that at least he had never been afraid of speaking to the press. “I met the press regularly and on every foreign trip I undertook, I had a press conference on return,” said Manmohan Singh.
It has been also pointed out by the journalists that Modi is not the first Prime Minister from whom media expects a regular interaction, most other PMs including Manmohan Singh even used to take journalists along with them on foreign visits. Travelling on the same plane gave the journalists opportunities to have non-rehearsed conversations with the Prime Minister.
Since there aren’t any journalists in Modi’s retinue when he travels abroad, it is being perceived by media as a foul in democracy because of their inability to question him. Political analyst and author Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr. said that “His behaviour is typical of strong leaders with mass appeal who are intolerant of the press. Modi believes he has no need to be interrogated, called to account or to answer difficult questions.”
Although Modi has never directly expressed his condescension for the press, other members of Bharatiya Janata Party has taken this to the next level by abusing the journalists in several ways as “presstitutes”, “dalals” (pimps) or “bazaru” (for sale).
Modi’s supporters are trying to defend him by stating that the Prime Minister has more than enough direct contact with people of India through his frequent rallies and meetings, and also his monthly chat on state-run radio channels are heard by more Indians than any press conferences with mere bunch of journalists but still it remains a fact that those are one-way communications and when it comes frequent one-to-one interviews where he can be confronted about serious national issues, he falls short.