Modi’s love-hate relationship with mainstream media is well known by now! More of hate than love by the mainstream media, to be precise! While it helped him in some ways while he was the CM of Gujarat and also to build a strong base of followers in Social media to fight this in a parallel world, it is quite difficult to understand why he would continue to estrange himself with them even now. So much so, BJP is not even bothered to send their top class spokespersons in any of the news debates.
Let us not forget, Modi himself was a BJP spokesperson and used to regularly come in for the news debates during Prime Time until he became the CM.
Much later and during the run up to the elections last year, they had some of the best spokespersons like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani, Meenakshi Lekhi, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Nirmala Seetharaman, Piyush Goyal, M J Akbar, among others. Modi himself started giving some interviews towards the fag end of the election campaign. Then the disengagement started again, after he became the PM. And most of these BJP spokespersons have now become ministers and they too are keeping away from mainstream media except once in a while for a tete-a-tete, that too in an aggressive or combative manner.
It is not that once they have become ministers, they need not interact with mainstream media on a regular basis, or for that matter there is a dearth of better spokespersons than the current ones available to do the business. It looks more like, “if you are not being friendly to me, we don’t care too” attitude from BJP. While it is ok to snub them due to their continued hostility towards Modi, even now, to completely shun them and avoid them totally would not be a very wise thing to do. Especially in the long run, if he is aiming for another term at office!
To be fair, mainstream media has done the least bit to make it any attractive for a positive engagement. Every time any of the BJP persons says something, it is either twisted, taken grossly out of context, or exaggerated to such a nauseating level, that no one would want to engage with them the next time. Yet, it isn’t that the mainstream media would not be interested to engage back, if there is a bit of positive move on this front. Despite most of the leading ones in mainstream media being anti-Modi, it wouldn’t be difficult to engage with some of them at least in a decent manner. But the problem is, like as soon as when Jaitley tried to do that with NDTV, there was a severe backlash from Modi followers too, even dubbing Jaitley as a “traitor” for engaging with NDTV. This kind of extreme position by many BJP supporters also is making it difficult for even those from the Cabinet who might want to engage with mainstream media.
Therefore, it is high time, Modi and Shah and their think-tank drop their “complete avoidance of engaging with mainstream media” stance and start engaging in a positive manner, despite the adversarial position of mainstream media, and maybe can even be selective in engagement, but do engage on a regular basis. They could even think of some neutral spokespersons, if not from party, to do this and empower them to do it. Like how some independent journalists and others do it for Congress, even though they are not from the party. I am sure with the likes of Tavleen Singh, Madhu Kishwar, Swapan Das Gupta and the like, there are enough of such people capable to do that too, just to give some examples, in case there is still a hesitation among those from the Party to do it.
While Modi takes so much of importance to go to the extent of even meeting those who influence Social media, at his own residence, and even exhorting them to remain positive despite abuse and attacks, it is quite baffling to see why he would not want to engage with the mainstream media and use it effectively, than simply ignore it, or sending those who aren’t really best suited for it as the spokespersons to engage with it. Especially it looks quite odd, when the PM is embarking on a very purposeful foreign visit now, the rest of the mainstream media except perhaps DD is still barking on same old stale stories than covering even one bit of this tour, during the day. Maybe something is still happening behind the screens already towards this end. Maybe not. If it isn’t, it would be worthwhile to give it a try.
At least he has nothing to lose by trying!
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