Prime Minister Narendra Modi | Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
Prime Minister Narendra Modi | Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
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India’s well-meaning media wants Rahul Gandhi to improve, but don’t want Narendra Modi to even learn.

From Pandit Nehru to Indira Gandhi to Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh – everyone travelled abroad and addressed elite conferences, met celebrity media persons and, of course, heads of states. But mostly those visits made just news, rarely inviting acrimonious, cynical or unduly controversial comments.

All that suddenly changed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He started globe-trotting with the frequency that could even beat the pace of 007. Like Modi, James Bond too was fighting global terrorism. Modi also has his “Q” in Ajit Doval.

Either as a counter strategy or an image-building exercise, Rahul Gandhi has also started traveling abroad on work. Since all the elections have been turned into a Modi versus Rahul battle by the BJP, the media too looks at their foreign jaunts in the same competitive mode. In real terms, there is little to compare and judge.


Also read: Here’s why Modi gets away with his gaffes, while Rahul Gandhi gets called Pappu


Modi goes everywhere with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. From Rwanda to Russia, from Brazil to Belgium, and from Vietnam to America, Modi meets and hugs world leaders and urges them to join his fight against the menace of terrorism.

In every city or town, from Dubai to Davos, he addresses the infatuated Indian diaspora. He uses all the weapons of mass distraction by lecturing them, and launches a vitriolic attack on the Congress. He tells them how he has changed India since 2014. The fully trained audience loudly cheers the messiah and chants “Modi Modi Modi”.

But there is one thing Modi avoids: open press conferences abroad, like he does in India.

The local media in those respective countries do not pay much attention to his mass meetings, not even to his hugs and discussions with heads of those states. But the Indian media, especially the TV channels, cover his each and every step: from boarding the plane in Delhi to landing, to glad-handing Indians on the street, to mass meetings, to beating the drums, playing the flute and posing for group photographs.

His itinerary is followed, minute by minute, by our media although he does not take any media person along with him on his hectic tours. His speeches are shown live in India and then repeated in every news bulletin, in all languages. But Modi’s laughable factual blunders, gross lies and half-truths are cunningly ignored by the media. Those are perhaps reserved only for the social media.

There are already more books on Modi’s foreign policy than on Nehru’s original and creative initiatives. Modi is working not only for the present but also for posterity. He wants to leave a footprint on the world geography before he embarks on his second term.


Also read: Before Modicare launch, over 33% children under 5 are stunted in these poll-bound states


Nehru’s great grandson, Rahul, also goes abroad, but of course not as frequently as Modi. His speeches or interviews too are covered, but more for alleged gaffes and so-called slips. Notwithstanding the ridicule and intense hostility, Rahul meets media for open Q&A sessions. So, the media is constantly looking for what they call self-goals.

Since Modi never faces the media, he does not have to answer awkward questions. How many times has Modi been asked about 2002 after he became the Prime Minister? Rahul can be questioned and even cornered for 1984 anti-Sikh riots although he was only 14 then.

Modi was 52 years old and the chief minister of Gujarat when the 2002 genocide took place under his watch. Yet, Modi gets a free pass with the media.

Rahul, on the other hand, is an opposition leader and obviously does not get the saturated media coverage like Modi. Some of his visits are for “vipashyanas”, or psychological inward search rather than changing the world outside.

Yet, Rahul gets juxtaposed all the time with a Modi. Media enjoys this juxtaposition, which can easily tilt the balance in favour of Modi. If Rahul is condemned or made to look like a fool or a dimwit, then the intelligent columnists and pontificating commentators are happy. All of them become “well-meaning and empathetic” advisers to Rahul. They all want Rahul to improve. But nobody wants Modi even to learn or improve. Modi has admirers, Rahul has advisers.


Also read: How many light bulbs does it take to change Rahul Gandhi?


This charade will continue till the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, and even afterwards. With a ‘Congress-Mukt Bharat’ slogan, Modi has decided, like a political reductionist, to make the country Rahul-Mukt as well. The media has joined the charade. But it is losing the sting and even the drama, leave alone the race. But then there is no other way to keep people away from the uncomfortable economic and political reality.

Kumar Ketkar is a former editor and Congress member of Rajya Sabha.

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11 Comments Share Your Views

11 COMMENTS

  1. 1984 was murder by mobs of all the Sikhs they could come across. It was not a riot. It was genocide. There were no death of Hindus in 1984. There was no police firing. No Sikh died due to police firing. Entire operation was conducted by congress workers on the direction of Arun Nehru. Army was not called for three days. Whereas in Gujarat both Hindus and Muslims died. There was police shoot out and both communities died in police shoot out. It was a riot due to the passion aroused between two communities. Army did flag March on 1st of March. Your hatred towards Modi and your love towards congress cannot change narratives which was witnessed by me on the ground.

    • Mr. Srinivasan,
      Whether the year 1984 or 2002 ?
      You admit deaths were there in 1984 and in 2002 !
      Srinivasan dear, deaths were deaths whether of Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims or of citizens belonging to any religion !
      Deaths were deaths whether owing to mobs’ lunacy, police shootout, army shoot out or any type of violence on
      the scene erupting out of any reason ?

      We should not see things with coloured glasses either pro or against anyone !

      Objectively speaking, the state failed to discharge its constitutional duties in both years be it in 1984 or 2002 !
      When Modi was at the helm in Gujarat in 2002 who else is to be blamed ? Both incidents are worth condemning
      and unfortunate ! There was utmost break down of law and order machinery in both the cases in question !

      Even late Mr.Atal Bihari Vajpayee then Prime Minister of India too talked of honouring of “Raj Dharma”. He had
      to cut a sorry figure while answering Gujarat 2002 killings incidents at certain international forums !

      Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
      Pom Anm Nest,Barnala(Punjab)

  2. Journalism bech ke rajya sabha ki seat to mil gayi, ab kya pappu ke sath hi ganja pine lage ho ya budhape ka assar hai tumlogo ne 2002 ke liye modi se jitne sawal kiye uske aadhe bhi apne paymaster ki family se kiye hote to tum kaha gayab hote kisi ko pata bhi nahi chalta yaha chhat chhat ke rajya sabha ne baithe ho gyan dena band kar do

  3. It is amusing to read Kumar writing utter rubbish about Modi week after week. There is no point in trying to counter his arguments, as he is viscerally opposed to Modi and at the same time, a cent percent congress stooge. After reading this article, I sense that he is actually showing Rahul in a very poor light and giving left handed compliments to Modi. Anyway,let us wait for another crass and comical article next week from Kumar.

  4. Look, a Congi chamcha like Ketkar too devoted 90% of his article on Modi. Why he grumbles about media. He himself is one of them. With sycophants like him around RAGA does not need enemies. This article nothing but “widhwa vilap” (cry of a widow).

    • Madam,
      Please look within your self and introspect deeply !
      When you are reacting so impulsively, you too are
      not in a balanced and objective frame of mind !

      There is a clear cut reflection that you too are someone’s
      …. what you are branding Mr.Ketkar in your first line !

      Debate and discussion have sort of level and standard !
      It should also be logic based on tolerance of various pro
      as well as anti points of view without losing temper !
      Every debate should not be viewed and seen in terms of
      Rahul Gandhi vs. Modi but in national !

      Moreover, how can NaMo of BJP can escape guilt and onus
      of 2002 Gujarat mishap even when the Prime Minister of the
      that time late Mr.Atal Bihari Vajpayee too accused NaMo of not
      honouring sanctity of constitution and ” Raj Dharma ” ?

      I can’t say how will you think and react to what I have
      commented ?

      Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
      Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab)

  5. Modi was hauled up for 2002 for the longest duration till 2014 he was persona non grata thanks to sold media like kumar ketkar. Neither was congress questioned for emergency or 1984 riots with neither media or court blaming congress or its leaders. Shame on media.

    • Prof PK Sharma,Freelance Journalist, Barnala (Punjab)

      This blame game is indeed playing havoc with the nation !
      We the Indians of all hues must admit the failure for all
      past troubles the nation had been face to face with ! We
      did not rise to the occasion too !

      Neither Congress nor BJP can escape the guilt and blame
      for what happened in the years 1984 and 2002 !

      BJP and Akali Dals have been expressing anguish and wrath
      over 1984 whereas Congress over 2002 ! BJP and Congress
      while at the helm in Centre were at their wits end to deliver
      justice to the aggrieved ! BJP led by late Mr.Atal Bihari Vajpayee
      was at the steering right from 1998 to 2004 ! The Sikh leaders
      late Mr.Surjit Singh Barnala,Mr. Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa enjoyed
      Ministership but forgot the brutal killings of their community of
      November 1984 ! Even now Mrs.Harsimrat Kaur Badal is a cabinet
      Minister in Modi Cabinet ! They all have just occasional lip sympathies !
      None of them quit their ministerial positions for their failure to press
      either Vajpayee or Modi led governments to bring the guilty to book !

      The UPA government led by Dr.Manmohan Singh remained in power
      for two consecutive terms ! But Congress Party too failed to ensure
      justice for 2002 Gujarat killings of one community mercilessly !
      Mr.Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mr. Salman Khurshid too preferred
      enjoying power instead of coming to the rescue of their brethern
      in trauma and trouble !

      It is futile to remember 1984 and 2002 because both years are
      irrelevant now ! Who has the will power and selfless determination
      to set the record straight objectively ! Time to ponder over and
      introspect 2014 to 2018 which is quite meaningful and relevant
      at this crucial juncture!

      Is party and vote bank politics not responsible for the sad and bad
      state of affairs ?

      Ironically, who cares for truth, justice and objectivity ?

      Prof PK Sharma,Freelance Journalist,
      Pom Anm Nest Barnala (Punjab)

  6. Any riot is a blot on ruling party may be 1984or2002 but reasons behind are questions to be answered by social scientist.WhyBindranwala ideology was groomed with in the knowledge of Cong.It’s elimination became challenge.Operation blue star did the job & rest is history.Massacre across northern India spred like wild fire&was led by local Cong leaders.Gujarat riots were the repercussions of Godhra train burning but can’t be justified.And we all aware that was the era of Late Vajpayeeji.He himself not condemned but questioned the administration of then CM Modi&taught him about Rajdharam.

  7. Global diplomacy – not to be confused with the thoughtful formulation of foreign policy – is a demanding mistress. 180 days spent on foreign tours, at least 120 days interacting with foreign heads of government when they come a visiting. So almost one year out of four spent engaging with the world. 2. At the risk of over simplification, we have two security concerns, both stalemated in nuclear deterrence. With Pakistan, there is no dialogue at all. Neither relationship is amenable to a transformative breakthrough, more like plodding on, avoiding Dokalam like downsides, 3. The real promise of India’s engagement with the world lies in generating forces that support higher economic growth, through trade and investment. Exports are languishing. Most foreign investment is portfolio, not so much in creating enterprises – both industry and services – that generate incremental economic activity and jobs.

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