Narendra Modi, second-term Prime Minister of India, mesmerising orator, is hailed across the world for his electrifying communication. Yet, even as India battles a relentless pandemic, Modi remains the only PM in our democratic history to have never held an open press conference.
Clearly, the PM understands the critical importance of communication as he is busy working phone lines to world leaders every day on how to battle coronavirus. The same leaders have shown remarkably different behaviour – like Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, who held a master class in communicating via the press on health updates and Donald Trump, the president of the United States, who despite his highly unorthodox and unique style of attacking the free press, does not skip the near daily presidential briefings from the White House. I could go on and on citing the other politicians who lead democracies and who, unlike Modi, don’t seem to think that questioning by a free press is either optional or extra.
Today, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, much maligned by the Panna Pramukhs and the BJP IT cell, made Modi look bad in comparison with an unscripted press conference.
Gandhi was composed and did not attack the Modi government on the handling of health crisis. Instead, he made the point that all parties should work together in a united fashion to face the crisis. Gandhi seemed statesmanlike compared to the routine shrill attacks that BJP ministers make on him. Gandhi seemed extremely reasonable, a pointed departure from his earlier personal attacks on Modi – that politicking has been put on hold by him. Gandhi made the point that he would return to attacking Modi later as “this was not the time”.
In the case of the coronavirusoutbreak, Gandhi has been prescient. On social media, he repeatedly raised the alarm, tweeting as early as February 12 that the Modi government must act to protect India and the economy.