Recently, quite a lot of people have attacked Narendra Modi for not having a Press Conference during his tenure. They have gone ahead to claim the democracy has come to an end. Some say he is not courageous to face the media. Some say it is dictatorial. All have praised the former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for upholding “Genuine Democracy”
I will briefly go through all these accusations. How sensible are they. Comparing each and every aspect with facts rather than just opinions.
Why a press conference?
What’s the whole purpose of a press conference? To answer questions of the people. To be accountable to the people. But is it actually achieved? No, a Big No. Questions to the press conferences during Manmohan Singh’s tenure were filtered. Journalists who asked genuine questions were silenced. No counter-questions were entertained.
For Example, in Jan 2014, corruption was a heated issue. The nation was fighting for Jan Lokpal. At the press conference The press engaged the PM about agricultural reforms and Sachar Commitee. Only one journalist questioned on Coal, CWG and 2G scams. PM Manmohan Singh sidelined it by saying they belong to UPA-1. No counter question!(2G, Coal and CWG scams were from UPA-1 but were exposed during UPA-2, No Questions on Agusta!). The media just remained a mouthpeice of the government.
Is Modi afraid to interact?
Modi has in fact given more interviews in five years than Dr. Manmohan Singh gave in 10 Years. Modi interacts and takes questions with the Indian diaspora abroad which Dr. Manmohan Singh rarely did. PM Modi gave five hour-long interviews to news channels since he came to power. While Manmohan Singh’s interview rarely spoke more than 15 minutes. Most of the Modi’s interviews journalists attacked him with burning issues. The only time when Modi took down an interview was way long in 2010 (When Karan Thapar repeatedly asked a “Why are you afraid about the ghosts of the Godhra riots”)
By the way, those who are praising Dr. Manmohan Singh, one has to look back that Dr. Singh did not give a single press conference during his first tenure from 2004-2009. He rarely spoke to Indian diaspora during his luxurious foreign trips. Never interacted with directly with the common man. Spoke only what the Congress president wanted him to speak. A reason why he got the tag “MaunMohan Singh”.
Why is the media and opposition pissed?
Most of the news channels in India are owned or handled by Political Parties. The ones that are spared, like The Hindu are by spearheaded by extremely biased journalists (Mostly with anti-democratic, communist ideologies). Journalistic ethics is a joke. Fake news is common even in the mainstream media. Thanks for the social media that these biases and fake news are often busted before they reach the common man.
Modi had never been a bait for the Lutyen’s media. He interacts directly with people. BJP has maintained a strong social media outreach. The media can no longer twist statements and fabricate facts. At best, the news is biased. At worse, it is fake. And the current government has overcome both. The government, especially the MEA, has gone steps ahead in responding people on social media. Something the previous governments never did.
The opposition is left out with nothing to attack Modi. The growth rate is consistently high. Inflation is record low. Extreme poverty has gone down from 27% in 2014 to 5% in 2018. Affordable healthcare and affordable housing is no longer a dream.
The opposition already played the card of farm distress in Rajastan, MP and Chattisgarh. But it has already turned out to be a scam. TimesMegaPoll clearly says any false allegations on Rafale can no longer fetch votes for the opposition. The fake statistics on unemployment fabricated by a Private company (CMIE Pvt ltd, funded by P. Chidambaram) is going to fall flat when official data will be released. In fact, reports from CII estimates a total of 13.5-14.9 million job additions per annum. Left out with no other way the opposition has attacked Modi on a non-issue about press conference.