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Great helmsman, history’s catalyst, ABCD PM – how breathless media barons hail guest Modi

PM Narendra Modi has been attending a series of media conclaves, and in each of them, he was welcomed by the top editors/owners with speeches laden with superlatives.

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New Delhi: “Architect of new India”, “history’s catalyst”, a “visionary leader” and one with a “cult-like following” — Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been described with a gamut of colourful adjectives by the heads of some of the country’s largest media conglomerates in the last 10 days, weeks before Lok Sabha elections.

Modi, along with other top ministers and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, attended a series of media conclaves, beginning with the Economic Times Global Business Summit on 22 and 23 February, where he was the chief guest on the second day. Modi then addressed the News18 Rising India Summit on 25 February, and was the keynote speaker at the India Today Conclave on 2 March.

In each of these summits, the PM was welcomed by the top editors/owners of the respective media houses — Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd (Times Group), Network 18 and the India Today Group — with praise-laden speeches.

The common thread in all their welcome speeches was acclaim for some of the PM’s marquee initiatives, his approach to foreign policy, and his “decisive” leadership.

India Today Conclave

In the most recent media conclave he attended, Modi was described as a leader with “a decisive disposition and singular capacity to break the mould”. Welcoming him, Aroon Purie, chairman & editor-in-chief of the India Today Group, coined an acronym for PM Modi — the “ABCD prime minister”.

“You often like to coin acronyms. So, I’m going to give you one. You are the ABCD prime minister — A is for Authoritative, B for Bold, C for Charismatic, and D for Development,” Purie said.

Purie, who began by congratulating the PM for getting Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman back from Pakistan, termed him “an architect of new India”.

“Earlier this week, you made the difficult and unprecedented decision to sanction strikes by the IAF on Pakistan’s territory in response to the Pulwama attack. Let’s applaud the prime minister for that and for our bravehearts who guard us. Nobody can deny PM Modi’s decisive disposition and singular capacity to break the mould. He is his own man, a man who will take a call and ride with what comes with it,” he said, adding this had been Modi’s “hallmark” since his days as the chief minister of Gujarat.

In his nearly eight-and-a-half minute long speech, Purie praised the PM’s pet initiatives like Swachh Bharat, Ayushman Bharat, Ujjwala, the rural housing scheme, the Jan Dhan Yojana, besides policy decisions like the “controversial but bold” demonetisation, the roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), as well as the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

“He has unleashed a range of audacious schemes to tackle long-neglected issues of development of this country. He has brought the broom to many cobwebs and turned on the ignition key to many engines at the same time,” Purie said.

Calling him a “fearless warrior against corruption”, Purie said Modi had “left his footprint on India, regardless of what 2019 holds for him”. He said few leaders can stake claim to the title of being “history’s catalysts”, but that PM Modi was “undeniably one of them”.

“You have travelled the world tirelessly and built a network of relationships with world leaders, which has held India in good stead,” he said.

Purie, however, did point to the PM’s “puzzling silences”.

“Your speeches as PM have been inspirational and pathbreaking. But for a powerful orator, your silences sometimes were puzzling,” he said.

The India Today Group chairman said people wanted to hear from Modi the secret of his “inexhaustible energy” and claimed his media house was the PM’s “lucky charm”, given that after he spoke at the Conclave in 2013, he went on to grab victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

“So, I suggest you don’t go to any other conclave or conferences after this,” Purie said.

The India Today Group owns a number of magazines, including the English and Hindi editions of India Today, the newspaper Mail Today, and television channels like Aaj Tak, India Today TV, Tez and Delhi Aaj Tak.

Also read: BJP has told all its sick party leaders to be active on social media

News18 Rising India Summit

“The great helmsman of the Indian dream” was how PM Modi was described by Zakka Jacob, editor-output of CNN-News18, before Rahul Joshi, managing editor and group editor-in-chief of Network18, delivered a six-and-a-half minute-long speech as part of his welcome address. He spent around five minutes and forty five seconds talking about the PM.

“Much in the last four years has been driven by the passion of one man. The man who swept the nation off its feet and romped home with a brute majority in 2014. The chaiwallah-turned-prime minister had a dream — the dream of a better, bigger, bolder India. When he came to power, he broke protocol many times. He hugged Obama, Nawaz Sharif, Trudeau… in short, he likes to set the agenda. The same agenda he likes to set with party president Amit Shah to make it the election winning machine it has become over the last few years,” Joshi said.

Adding that the PM “leads his team from the front and wears his attitude on his sleeve”, Joshi said after demonetisation, the BJP “swept Uttar Pradesh with an unprecedented 324 seats”.

“India is now on track to be the fastest-growing economy in the world. You look at complex issues with the rare ability of a common man rooted in the real India. Mr Modi has deftly managed the issues of the rural poor and the aspirations of the urban middle class, even if not those wearing the suit boot,” he added, while also talking about the PM’s initiatives like Swachh Bharat, the Ujjwala Yojana and his book on exam stress, among others.

“Your personal charm and oratorical might have taken your message to billions beyond the shores and connected Indians across the world. Your public rallies in India continue to draw huge crowds and events globally betray a cult-like following,” Joshi concluded.

The Network 18 group runs TV channels such as CNBC Awaaz, CNN-News 18, CNBC TV18, News 18 India and 14 regional language channels, besides news portals like Moneycontrol andFirstpost.

ET Global Business Summit

Times Group managing director Vineet Jain welcomed the PM before his address on the second day of the summit.

Jain, who spoke for a little over three minutes, also spent some time outlining Modi’s schemes — from Swachh Bharat to Ujjwala, Saubhagya, Jan Dhan and Ayushman Bharat.

“We are honoured the PM has chosen this platform on multiple occasions to outline his vision for India and its economy. You have never shied away from dreaming big and for setting yourself bold targets, even when they have seemed almost unachievable. Many of your initiatives have been game-changing and life-altering,” he said.

Seeking to draw comparisons between 2014, when the Modi government took charge, and now, Jain said “inflation, which is like a tax for the poor, is down to two per cent from six per cent in 2014”.

“And that is what has made the five years of your government so full of purpose and vitality. What is particularly heartwarming is that you’ve been able to do so much for the underprivileged, while at the same time promoting the cause of trade and industry. Later this year, India will become the fifth largest economy in the world,” he added, while talking about the improvement in India’s Ease of Doing Business rank.

“All this would not have been possible without a strong and stable government, one that is able to innovate on policies and provide the governance to see this through. India with its steady growth has been a stand-out amid global economic volatility,” Jain said.

Like his other colleagues in the media world, Jain also praised the PM for his efforts in diplomacy.

“In Mr Modi, we have a visionary leader who has established close rapport with his counterparts around the world and can play a lead role in coming up with solutions to the pressing problems of today and tomorrow,” he said, concluding with the claim that Modi “must be planning to cross many more rivers and climb many more mountains”.

The Times Group runs top publications such as The Times of India, The Economic Times, Navbharat Times and the Mirror newspaper in various cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad, plus TV channels such as Times Now,Mirror Now and ET Now. It also boasts of an impressive presence in the vernacular press in Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal, among other states and languages.

Also read: Why Narendra Modi needs to be on Ranveer Singh’s Instagram feed

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  1. One does not know how the economics of such events work. There may be a steep delegate fee. Again, more than profit generators, these Conclaves may be expected to build up the brand. Difficult to judge if the many fine ideas that are thrown up ultimately enrich the formulation of public policy. It is customary to welcome senior dignitaries with a bouquet and a few kind words. However, if the interaction resembles how Ms Jayalalithaa’s ministers greeted her, that portrays the state of responsible segments of the Indian media in a very unflattering light.

  2. After Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s masterly thirteen minute speech – I wish it had gone on for an hour – Rahul Kanwal’s interjection showed how much media management is at work. As President Donald Trump remarked enviously, You have a nice press …

  3. Ours is a country which was invaded, thrashed, colonised, humiliated and looted for centuries. The Right Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a template for retaliation against terror attacks and this cannot be undone in future by socialist leaders for fear of attracting the wrath of patriots. The PM has given a sense of dignity and security. For this I shall be grateful to the PM forever.

  4. Aroon Purie knows how to make an ordinary name look special — take his own name for example. All my life I have seen this name spelt as: ARUN PURI. Sweet and simple! I don’t know why he wants to remind us of sour taste as in tomato puree!

    He calls Mr Modi an ABCD prime minister. Well, some may call him an XYZ prime minister. X for Xenophile, Y for Yucky, Z for Zero.

    Not me, not me! Please don’t look at me!

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