Sambit Patra has arguably been the most prominent spokesperson for the BJP over the past few months. Known for his controversial remarks, Patra was recently in news on several occasions because of his comments, deemed unparliamentary. His influence in the party can be gauged by the fact that when it’s not BJP President Amit Shah, it Patra, who’s often seen holding official press briefings at the newly built party headquarters.
However, on Friday, Shah forgot his most popular spokesperson’s name as he struggled to find a suitable answer for a seemingly tough question from a TV journalist. Shah was addressing a news conference from the party HQ to talk about his planned rath yatra in Bengal. But, his media interaction had taken place barely hours after Congress President Rahul Gandhi taunted PM Modi for not holding a single press conference over the period of four years.
India Today’s Mausami Singh, in her editorial wisdom, rightly thought that this question needed to put to Shah. No sooner had she finished her question, a visibly nervous Shah looked to his sides before coming up with an evasive answer. He said, “Sandeep ji jawab denge Rahul ji ka. Sandeep Patra ji. (Sandeep Ji will reply to Rahul Gandhi. I mean Sandeep Patra ji).“ The reporter persisted with her question, allowing enough time for Shah to correct himself. But, it didn’t happen as a visibly irritated Shah replied, “He will reply, on behalf of the party.”
Patra was recently in news after Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit threatened to take legal action if he did not apologise for his comments made against him in a press conference. It’s not clear whether Shah was confused between his spokesperson Sambit and Congress leader Sandeep.
Shah’s inability to remember his own top spokesperson’s name assumes significance in light of both he and PM Modi mocking Rahul Gandhi in an election rally for making a mistake in pronouncing freedom fighter Kumbharam Arya and calling him Kumbhkaran.
Gandhi had taken a dig at Prime Minister Modi earlier this week by mocking him for not holding a single press conference during his term as prime minister for over four years. He had tweeted, “Dear Mr Modi, Now that campaigning is over, hope you can spare some time for your part-time job as PM. Btw its been 1,654 days since u became PM. Still no press conference? Some pics from our Hyderabad PC today. Try one someday, it’s fun having questions thrown at you!”
PM Modi has often come under media’s attack for not entertaining two-way interaction with the media since becoming the prime minister in 2014. His selected few interviews have been allotted to channels or media houses, known for being sympathetic to his government or the ideologies of his party, the BJP.
This is what BJP chief Amit Shah said when India Today’s @mausamii2u asked for his opinion on Rahul Gandhi’s comment that Modi had not held a press conference since he came to power. Listen in. #ITVideohttps://t.co/Nounxo6IKQ pic.twitter.com/E6EoVAqmyT
— India Today (@IndiaToday) December 7, 2018