For a while now, so-called journalists and so-called intellectuals have been throwing taunts at PM Modi, asking him to take “tough” questions from the media.
There are at least two big things that are wrong with this. First of all, it ignores the fact that PM Modi has been subject to perhaps the most systematic and ruthless vilification campaign by national and international media against an individual ever, right since 2002.
Secondly, by making a huge deal out of “tough media questions”, the media is demanding for itself a uniquely privileged position in our democracy. The Prime Minister is answerable to the people, not the media. The media is a bunch of private businesses run by big corporations like any other. When media professionals advertise themselves as representing the “voice of the people”, it is obviously self-serving and arguably undermines our democracy.
That said, we can be certain that PM Modi loves a challenge. And so on the first day of the New Year, PM Modi sat down for an interview with ANI’s Smita Prakash. And it is hard to resist the temptation to compare this to the “interview” that Sonia Gandhi gave to “journalist” Rajdeep Sardesai. It is only after due consideration that I decided to put inside quotes both the words “interview” and “journalist” in the previous sentence.
Here is Smita Prakash’s first question to PM Modi:
Straight to the point. Tough but fair.
So how did Rajdeep do with his first “question” to Sonia Gandhi? Let’s find out:
Again, I decided, only after due deliberation, to put the word “question” in quotes.
These two opening lines very must set the tones for the respective interviews. Smita Prakash asks a host of questions about public policy, both its intent and impact, about election promises, about the future and fortunes of the BJP and more. Here are just a few examples.
She even quoted the worst of the abuses being used by critics straight to the Prime Minister’s face!
In comparison, Rajdeep’s “interview” with Sonia ji proceeds along the lines of asking more and more about the family life of the Gandhis. As if we care. As if this nation has any reason to care…
I leave it to you to decide who is too scared to answer tough questions. And to decide who is scared to even ask difficult questions!
It should be pointed out here that Rajdeep’s interaction with Sonia Gandhi, which was advertised as an “interview” by India Today :
was really supposed to be a chat about Indira Gandhi.
Yes indeed. The same liberal media that complains about Modi not taking enough questions from journalists have nothing better to do than “interview” Sonia Gandhi about her family interactions with her mother in law.
Again, you decide who is scared of asking tough questions. And who is scared of answering them.
Comparing the PM Modi interview with that of Sonia ji, you realize that it is even fair in some ways. Both journalists Smita Prakash and Rajdeep Sardesai have had to play to the respective strengths of the people they were interviewing. PM Modi’s strength comes from being a self-made man, from years of learning from victory and defeat and from making public policy. So Smita Prakash asked him about that: winning / losing elections and policy matters.
In contrast, Madam Sonia ji’s strength comes from belonging to a certain family. And so Rajdeep wanted to know more about her family.
It’s kind of fair, I guess. Sort of funny even. Although the joke is really on us.