Over the past few years, Modi has only given interviews to fawning media channels or those who have agreed to let their questions pass through PMO’s strict question filter process in advance. In multiple instances, it was alleged that the PMO either asked the media houses to completely remove some of their critical questions, or phrase them in a way to suit his replies.
It is the first time after becoming the Prime Minister, that Modi has sought to begin the new year by responding to questions on a range of issues that concern the nation. But the question arises that is it a coincidence that the Prime Minister has spoken to at least one person in the media a fortnight after his predecessor, Dr. Manmohan Singh, had said on December 18, 2018 that he had never been afraid to talk to the media. Narendra Modi’s intention behind his interview last week may or may not be a response to Singh’s assertion, but it was seen as a similar assertion in the way people analyse politics.
Ahead of a 10-point rebuttal, the Congress issued a scathing response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s New Year interview. Soon after the 95-minute interview ended, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted: “Summary of Modiji’s ‘Monologue’ Interview:- ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘Mine’, ‘Myself’ Country is suffering your ‘I’s & ‘Lies’!”
The double standard debate of the Prime Minister on issues of Sabarimala and Triple Talaq became the topic of discussion in almost every prime time debates. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that while the Triple Talaq bill, that aims to make it a punishable offence, is about gender equality and social justice, the restrictions in the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple was a matter of ‘tradition.’ The two illogical arguments by the prime minister on these issues of belief, culture and tradition was marked as an important issue of the interview.
“Those people who want to weaken the Army are levelling allegations. Should I worry that they are making personal attacks on me, or whether my country’s needs should be met? I won’t leave my Army jawans merely to their fate,” said the Prime Minister when asked about the Rafale deal. Meanwhile, the Congress released an audio clip, where Parrikar said he had “all files in his bedroom.” In the audio clip, a man the Congress claimed was Rane is heard speaking to a person identified only as X. The man talks about the Cabinet meeting and goes on to claim that Parrikar had made an ‘interesting statement.’
Dissatisfaction among the media houses and journalists was seen on the pattern of questions asked to Modi. On demonetisation, the Prime Minister said, “ab safaai ho gayi hai” and the economy will now revive. He also said that there is less cash in the system, the tax net has expanded, and that the black money has now been incorporated into formal banking systems. Questions relating to unemployment and the death of small-scale industries were missing from the interview. The unorganised sector and the agrarian sector have still not revived after two years since demonetisation. Who will be held responsible for all the huge losses there?
Questions relating to education policies, budget allowance and unemployment should have been asked in a more proper way which was absent in the entire interview. Ideally, Modi should also have condemned the hate-mongering by people of his own institution. The issue of the Ram Mandir was brought up, and the statement given in the interview must be debated upon.
However, the debate ended on an happy note. It was more about the Prime Minister rendering the ball in his court then delivering facts and arguments which he promised in his manifesto and is seemingly impossible for him to deliver. In fact, the promises were unrealistic and should have been understood by the people in 2014 itself.