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Modi’s media phobia

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General elections – 2014 was a milestone in the history of independent India. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the massive mandate under the leadership of Narendra Modi. To the supporters of Modi, that was the ‘end of history’ and wait for the “Ache Din” began.

Victory of Modi in the elections was a sign of hope for the sections of voters completely disillusioned with the Congress.

The success and victory of Modi in the 2014 elections was facilitated by various factors. Money, media and muscle power of Hindutva forces played a pivotal role.

At this point I wish to share my views how Narendra Modi used Media in pre-election campaign and now how he is deliberately avoiding the media after completion of one year of his tenure as the Prime Minister of India.

Modi’s election campaign was nothing but just a social media bonanza. It was full of self –congratulatory commentary of 140 words or less, selfies and jingo-laden social schemes. Many publications around the world said that 2014 marked “India’s first social media elections”.

Senior leader of BJP quoted: “Modi does not need either the party or PR agencies; television news media is doing the job for us”.

Today we have a Prime Minister who will not be accountable to media. His communications through radio and Doordarshan are a one way, non-interactive, top-down flow of information. They don’t allow journalists to pose questions. Surprisingly there wasn’t a single press conference at the end of the first year.

The above statement clearly shows how media was used by Modi and his party in election campaign.

It’s an open secret that the media machine of the prime minister’s office has not only driven this year’s news agenda, it has also owned it. There is a paradigm shift in the political discourses of India after Modi became the PM.

Any reports or scoops against Modi are like being in a message vortex. It reaches nowhere. “Swach Bharath Abhiyan” – a cleanliness drive and multi-billion dollar “Make in India” have kept most of the media, the foreign press included, in a trance.

Today when the Modi –led government marks its first year in office the relationship between the media and the country’s leadership touched new lows.

The Prime Minister’s a new desire to go only with Doordarshan and All India Radio is quite skeptical. These are the autonomous media houses run by the central government but the voice which comes out of it is of the State. It is the voice of the power centers. At the time of one-to-one interviews, he picked foreign channels (CNN and TIME Magazine) or foreign print media. While in India he is confined to papers that favor his agenda , no surprise we see lengthy and exclusive interview spread over four papers to the Hindustan Times and in DainikJagran on 9th April 2015. On the other hand big media conglomerates are invited to take selfies with him!!!

Narendra Modi doesn’t want any media mediation in his communication. He is aiming at disempowerment of media.

Today we have a Prime Minister who will not be accountable to media. His communications through radio and Doordarshan are a one way, non-interactive, top-down flow of information. They don’t allow journalists to pose questions. Surprisingly there wasn’t a single press conference at the end of the first year.

V.K Singh, Minister of State for Defense once made sneering comment on media as “Presstitute”. If this is happening in any democratic country which values media should make him to publicly apologize.

Modi fears questions and voices of a common man. In a country where millions have no access to twitter or face book, Mr. Modi simply cannot neglect the mainstream media. Those who have tried to muzzle it have perished. Those who ignore it will simply lose the plot.

It is a known fact that dissent is the soul of democracy. Openness, like sunlight is a disinfectant. Modi’s attitude towards media is a sabotage of democratic values prevailing in this country. Finally this attitude ends in dictatorship.

To conclude, positive political conversations are very important to protect the liveliness of democracy. At this point independent media plays a vital role, protection of free press is an open challenge. Let’s join hands to fight back the sabotage of democracy.

 

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