It is almost ironic how Narendra Modi, who rose to power and fame on the back of his ability to speak, has held only one press conference in the last seven years.
The rise of Narendra Damodardas Modi from being a mere tea-seller (popular narrative) to occupying the most powerful seat in the democratic structure of India has been nothing less than amazing in the true sense of the word. This magnificent rise of the person and his party can be attributed to a couple of factors that worked their magic in tandem and led to the resurrection of the Bharatiya Janata Party after Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Prime Ministership.
An Election Campaign Studded with Marketing and Publicity Brilliance
The 2014 Lok Sabha elections were monumental for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Congress’s two successive terms under the aegis of Dr. Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister were marred with scams and scandals. If the BJP would’ve failed to capitalize even after such a head start, it would’ve been the end of their political journey. However, they did capitalize on it and that too in a fashion that still echoes in our minds. The election campaign of 2014 for the BJP was built around the failures of Congress, poked fun at them and at the same time, put Narendra Modi forward as the saviour of the Indian middle, lower-middle and below poverty line economic brackets. Slogans like Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkar and Achche Din became the word on the street and Narendra Modi’s name was literally as well as figuratively, hammered into the minds of common people of the country.
However, this wasn’t the only factor.
The “Oratory Brilliance” of Narendra Modi
Along with the impressive campaign, the BJP had something in 2014, that the Congress had no answer to. The extraordinary skills of Narendra Modi. The tea-seller narrative and the lower-middle-class background of Narendra Modi made him the massy leader that common Indians wanted since forever. When Narendra Modi spoke at rallies during the campaign, the size of these rallies increased by ten folds. Everything from his body language to his diction and pronunciation struck a chord with people. His portrayal as a man without a family and therefore without greed made him an ideal answer to the financial betrayals of Congress.
Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister
When the current BJP government came into power under the leadership of Modi seven years ago, the Prime Minister started his monthly radio address program to the nation by the name of “Mann Ki Baat”. In this radio address, the Prime Minister addresses the nation on the last Sunday of every month, in order to talk about important developments that took place in that month and any announcements that the government wants to make for the future.
Apart from his monthly Mann ki Baat program, Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India has shown a knack of impromptu addresses to the nation. Be it the infamous Demonetization of the 8th of November 2016, the famous Janata Curfew of 2019 due to the COVID-19 or the Thali Banging Utsav that followed the Curfew, all were announced in impromptu and one-sided addresses by the Prime Minister.
7 Years of Rule and the One-sided Communication Affair
Achche Din were the expectations of people when finally, someone with as humble background as Narendra Damodardas Modi assumed the charge of Prime Minister of India. However, almost all of this first term as the PM was spent on foreign tours, which no doubt, did reap some benefits regarding the FDI and foreign relations of the country. But one thing that was missing was media interaction.
It is almost ironic how someone, who rose to power and fame on the back of his ability to speak, has held only one press conference in the last seven years. Very interestingly, even the solitary press conference that was held at the brink of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it was the current Home Minister and the then BJP Party President Amit Shah, who appeared to be answering all the questions as Narendra Modi the “Brilliant Orator” maintained complete silence.
Although the Prime Minister has appeared in a number of News interviews, the famous among which were conducted by Celebrities like Akshay Kumar and Prasoon Joshi, one fails to understand why he has not addressed a real press conference. Notably, social media users have often termed these interviews of PM Modi as “Scripted” and “Fake” because no real questions were ever asked.
The only true media interaction of PM Modi that is openly available to the public is the 2007 interview he did with veteran journalist Karan Thapar that ends in less than 3 minutes as the visibly rattled Narendra Modi is seen leaving the set of a live TV interview.
For the last seven years the country has heard many monologues from the Prime Minister who is yet to have a dialogue. There is just one question in our mind:
Is Narendra Modi’s prowess as a “Brilliant Orator” limited to only one-sided addresses?