Modi’s interview on Times Now: Both Arnab and prime minister came out poor


After evading Indian media’s scrutiny for over two years, Indian PM Narendra Modi finally gathered the courage to face questions. Even though the interview was alleged to be a fixed match between Arnab Goswami , who has done all he can to please the ruling dispensation put sychophancy to shame.

Such journalism would be a normal in doordarshan during the emergency days. As for Modi, who due to his aversion to two-way conversation with the media, has avoided giving interviews up until now.

Still, one can’t help but get a sense that even in the supposedly scripted interview, Modi emerged as a prime minister, who came across as conscious, defensive and apologetic of his underachievement.

Modi also emerged as someone making excuses for his failures when he is not evading or lying about them. The interview also Modi out portrayed Modi as a weak and confused Prime Minister.

Why do i sound so disappointed with the interview and what are the basis of all the harsh adjectives I have ascribed to Modi can be understood by first briefly getting the context in which the interview took place.

Two years is along time in politics. Two years ago, the man who commanded hopes is today a cause of disappointment. Modi’s two years of rule has seen deteriorating relations with China(China blocking India in NSG despite desperate pleas by Modi government. China is also regularly intruding into Indianew territories thereby making mockery of our prime minister’s claims of being a strong leader who could instill fear in India’s opponents.

Nepal(Madhesi crisis), Maldives (whose Indian friendly leader was abandoned by New Delhi), Pakistan (which has staged attacks after attacks ignoring the Modi governments’ appeasements as well as threats), Sri Lanka (which has again embraced China despite elections helping pro indian leader win) and many other important countries.

If the foreign policy actions have been marked by underperformance, the situation is much worse on other fronts. The rural areas are suffering from unprecedented distress with a record number of farmer suicides. The economic growth is has taken a hit and there is turmoil in the universities which have now turned into warzones. The social harmony is regularly being tested and strained by the leading members of the ruling party. The promise of jobs now appear as a distant dream and black money has been reduced to a stuff of jokes.

So when the nation is reeling under such untold hardships, one expected some sombre soul searching from the prime minister. It was expected that there would be some honest owning up of responsibility and the nation would get some answers why achhe din is nowhere to be seen.

Alas it was too much to expect. All one got was evasive and confused PM.

Conscious and defensive on underachievement

Throughout the interview, it was hard to shake the feeling that one was seeing a man who is conscious and defensive of his underachievements. Take for example his response on the snail pace at which his government has acted against corruption-

” One can’t imagine the difficulty I am experiencing in taking out things from dirt. One who is working there knows the amount of dirt that exists and how certain things have been caught in a web. There are certain powers behind it. The case about Agusta helicopters. I can’t deny it and I believe that we have the right to doubt that people behind this are very experienced. They have perfectly practiced the art of doing wrong deeds. They are very experienced and knowledgeable. And one can also smell the fact that such a thing wouldn’t have been done without a shield. Now, agencies are probing. Let’s see how far the probe goes.”

Why did he fail to forsee that corruption investigations are not child matter when he used to wax eleoquence about bringing back black money within hundred days and putting in Jail the Vadras and others, who robbed the nation? Was he immature then? It is shameful for me as an Indian that our PM today is describing  those who looted our nations as very experienced  and  knowledgeable to cover up his failed performance. Also why does he seems so helpless as to be clueless (“lets see where the probe goes”) if the probe will reach a definite conclusion.

Weak and evasive PM

For over a week India has been shamed in the global community because of RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan being hounded by the BJPMP Subramanian Swamy . But the PM stayed silent. Even now when he spoke so late, he still couldn’t gather the strength to name Swamy-

“This fondness for publicity is never going to do any good to the nation. People should conduct themselves with utmost responsibility. If anybody considers himself above the system, it is wrong.”

The condemenation also smacks of dishonesty as he is the one who empowered Swamy by nominating him despite knowing the gutter politics he has mastered.

Many have already alleged that Swamy was only doing Modi’s dirty job of getting rid of Rajan in a way the PM can claim ignorance and innocence. Perhaps this is why he could not gather the courage to directly condemn Swamy.

What can one say of a prime minister whose own party leaders don’t obey him and who can’t even convey them without evasion. If his own party leaders are not in his control how can he manage the entire nation.

A leader afraid of his very own people

Even when the PM tried to paint a lighter side he  ended up portraying himself as afraid of his own countrymen.-

“I am in fear, there is no humour left in public life because of this fear. Everyone is scared. I am in fear. My speeches used be humourous. I see it in Parliament, that humour is finished there too. It is a matter of concern.”

Why should any PM be afraid of his people? Shouldn’t he share such spontaneous and special bond with people that he is at ease in making a joke or two.

And if what he said left you sad what he didn’t say left you devastated. The prime minister was mute about the growing communal rhetoric from his feigned ignorance and corruption in BJP states namely Vyapam.  Goa CM shielding his in law who was caught on camera, Raman Singh role in pdf scam,  Vasundhara Raje Lalitgate Modi deal and the legions of other such loot of nation by bjp leaders and didn’t own up his government failure to take timely action about rural distress.

The interview also was remarkable in the sheepish manner in how Arnab behaved.  All of the thunder it seems is reserved only for Modi’s opponents.  He allowed Modi to not answer pressing and embarrassing issues and showed an uncharacteristic deference. To conclude this was one interview where both the person who interviewed as well as the one who was being interviewed came out looking poor.

If the prime minister had intended it as a PR exercise this surely was a poor one at that.

The views expressed here are the author’s own and doesn’t subscribe to them