Dear Times Now, it’s better to sell ‘pakode’ outside Zee News office than ask such ‘hard-hitting’ questions


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday spoke to Times Now, a day after he had chosen to speak to Zee News. Both Times Now and Zee News have been known for flying the flag for the BJP-led government at the Centre. The prime minister’s choice of TV channels and their representatives, therefore, did not cause any shock to any ‘news’ consuming public.

If Modi’s interview with Zee News gave people innumerable ‘OMG’ moments for embarrassing reasons, what followed with Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar aptly summed up why they had been invited as the prime minister’s special guests. 

Both appeared incredibly respectful, even a touch frightened. They sat like two most obedient school children, who are often conscious of a whack by their teacher, for they are unsure what may be construed as unruly behaviour. And they simply can’t afford to face the wrath, for they know that their teacher is notorious for taking a dim view of any bad behaviour. Hence, the absolute display of discipline, often seen among NCC cadets or inside army barracks.  

Here are some of the questions that we’ve highlighted. If you are a student of journalism, these questions will be a case study how never to interview a politician. If you are ever faced with a choice to either do an interview with such ‘hard-hitting’ questions or lose the opportunity to interview the guest altogether, you must choose the option of selling pakode outside the office of Zee News. 

Navika: Pradhanmantri ji, you talked about the economic situation. Your current GDP growth is 6.5% this year, while some agencies like the World Bank are optimistic that it will rise to 7.3% the next year. How will this growth continue to move in an upward direction because there are MANY who have come up with doomsday scenario? In Times Now’s inimitable style, the question should have been; Dear Mr Prime Minister, Haven’t you miserably failed on the economic front, given that the GDP growth is now at its four-year low and there’s generally an environment of doom and gloom everywhere?

Rahul: But even then, from 1991 till now no prime minister from our country has got this opportunity to occupy this stage. Why has this happened? Seriously, you call it a question? This is sycophancy at its best. The question should have been, can you define your foreign policy? What benefits your never-ending foreign trips have yielded for India?

Navika: Very well said Mr Prime Minister. Mr Prime Minister, I would like to remind you that in October 2017, Christine Lagarde had said that ‘we’ve slightly downgraded India but we believe that India is for the medium and long term on the growth track that is much more solid as a result of structured reforms that have been conducted in the last two years. If world economic institutions like the IMF and the World Bank are convinced about demonetisation and GST, then why is our domestic constituency not convinced with demonetisation and GST? Dear Navika, it’s not journalists’ job to praise the politicians. Your so-called question had the imprint of your former boss, Arnab Goswami (read here), written all over when he met the same prime minister in 2016. In your true style, you should have asked, “Dear PM, who cares what the IMF or the World Bank have to say about your economic policies? Where are those promises of 1 crore job creation every year? Where is the economic growth? Why has petrol price touched Rs 80 per litre and why is the value of rupee on the downward journey? The nation clearly wants to know.” 

Rahul: We would like to digress a little and talk about foreign policy. You have an equation with many world leaders, even with President Donald Trump. How much has this contributed, your relations with others, to isolate Pakistan internationally? Oh dear! We can’t believe Rahul that you did not know the right question you ought to have asked. You should have asked, “Dear Mr PM, what’s your policy on Pakistan? You surprise everyone by stopping by in Lahore to attend the birthday bash. A week later Pakistanis attack Indian air force base. Weeks later, you let their secret service agents, the ISI, to carry out inspection of an Indian Air Force Base in Pathankot. You say that terror and talks can’t go hand-in-hand, yet your NSA Ajit Doval holds secret talks with the Pakistani NSA in Bangkok. Your own MHA data (Read here) shows the cross border terrorism and infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir have increased significantly even after demonetisation. Whats’ going on? Aren’t you taking all of us for a ride Mr PM?”    

Navika: In an interview to Times Now, he (Netanyahu) said your attitude towards terror is that of a hard power Nation. He endorsed Modi doctrine and the hard power; he said that terrorism cannot be tackled with soft power. Will you continue with this strong stand? Navika ji, please enlighten us with one credible example, which is corroborative of our prime minister’s tough stand on terrorism. Surgical strikes happened before also, but Manmoahn Singh did not have a Twitter army or journalists on his pay roll to shout about it. You should have grilled the PM quoting Janta Ka Reporter’s exclusive article that we wrote when the claims of surgical strike were first made.

Rahul: Now these are all matters related to the economy. Threats to kill and murder are being made. Even about your family, people make very distasteful and personal remarks. We’ve been hearing that election after election Modi JI. This is not a good reflection on our political discourse. What do you have say? The question should have been, “Modi ji, why you as the prime minister, lower the political discourse election after election? Why do you frequently resort to even lying thereby causing disrepute to the PM’s chair? Why Mr PM why?”

Rahul: Lot of Opposition leaders were dragging high-profile BJP leaders into the crisis related to judiciary. Do you think this is just like you were the chief minister of Gujarat sir, these people are once again raking some issues before 2019 elections by highlighting judiciary issue and some other cases? They are trying to corner you.

Modi replies: My rivals have always continued with their mission to finish me.

Navika interjects: And this campaign continues even today. It was a perfect awww moment Navika and thank you for creating one for all of us. 

Navika: Mr. Prime Minister, there is a CONSENSUS on an issue that you have talked about many times, that the country must have simultaneous polls in the Centre and States. Talking about 2018 itself, there are elections in 6-7 states and next year there are general elections with a few states. On this issue, why ISN’T there a CONSENSUS? Navika ji please decide if there is a consensus or not. You first say there’s consensus then ask the PM why there isn’t a consensus. Please make up your mind! So you know, such gaffes happen when you are desperately seeking to sound like a journalist!