In Lutyen’s Delhi, the buzz is that any journalist or media house granted an interview with the Prime Minister is required to submit a questionnaire to the PMO first. The questions are then vetted and some are deleted while a few, presumably, are added to the list.
On WhatsApp a message is circulating that during the recording of the PM’s interview with Zee News, the interviewer asked the PM whether he should put a question on Kashmir. It was apparently indicated that he should not. The post, sourced from Zee’s recording staff , quotes the anchor remonstrating at the end of it all that the PM had not parted with any ‘Masala News’. Mazaa nahin aaya sir, he is quoted as exclaiming.To which the PM is said to have quipped that he was the ‘news’ and he was the ‘masala’.
Meanwhile, the Times Now interview with the PM, aired on Sunday evening, is getting trolled on Twitter for the interviewers’ inability to ask searching questions. It is a lesson to aspiring journalists on how not to conduct an interview, some observed. Some joked at the tough questions put to the PM that left him groping for answers.
Here is a sample of the 10 toughest questions put to the PM by the Times Now team of Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar:
Navika Kumar, Managing Editor: Prime Minister, you spoke about the economy. The govt estimates on GDP growth have pegged it as 6.5% this year while some agencies like the World Bank are optimistic that it will rise to 7.3% in the coming year. What will fuel this rise because there are many who have come up with ‘doom’s day scenario’?
Rahul Shivshankar, Editor-In-Chief: Sensex is another indicator, it has crossed 35,000 and one of the reasons is, which even you were talking about, is the fiscal deficit. You said your government has managed it very well. But even then, there are apprehensions; people say that it's not going very well. You talked about compulsions, what are these compulsions?
Navika Kumar, Managing Editor: You are the first Prime Minister of this country, in 20 years, who will be going to Davos and you will be addressing the plenary. No prime minister has done this before, nobody has addressed the plenary. Last year, China had addressed the plenary and this year you will be addressing the plenary and your tour begins in two days; which part of India's growth story will you be presenting in Davos?
Navika Kumar, Managing Editor: You are absolutely right Mr Prime Minister. Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to remind you that in October 2017, IMF chief Christine Laggard had said that “we have slightly downgraded India but we believe that India is for the medium and long-term on a growth track that is much more solid as a result of structural reforms that have been conducted in the last couple of years”. If world economic institutions like IMF and World Bank are convinced about demonetisation and GST, then why is our domestic constituency not convinced with demonetisation and GST?
Navika Kumar, Managing Editor: What you said is right Mr Prime Minister but there is a certain criticism and I am talking about the opposition here. Sometimes they say you introduced the Gabbar Singh Tax, they say that there is unemployment and so ask where is the ease of living? They also say that there is no job creation, there is agriculture distress and farmers are dying, what will you say to them?
Rahul Shivshankar, Editor-In-Chief: Now these are all matters related to the economy. Threats to kill and murder are being made. Even about your family, people make very distasteful personal remarks. We have been hearing them election after election, Modiji. This is not a good reflection of our political discourse. What do you have to say, because this is becoming cyclical?
Navika Kumar, Managing Editor: Prime Minister, you have been trying to improve India's image abroad, but some of our leaders go abroad and tell the Indian diaspora that things are not working well in India. They urge Indians abroad to return home because everything is getting worse. What will you say to those people?
Rahul Shivshankar, Editor-In-Chief: But people say there should be no restriction on free speech. We are free to make comments. We are free to express our disappointments and this has happened before. So they say why are we being singled out, that because of our words India's image is getting dented? What do you have to say to them?
Rahul Shivshankar, Editor-In-Chief: Many people say that when they go abroad they get a chance to speak, so they speak. They say it's not that our intentions towards the country are wrong but we are presenting the reality. Are they denting the image?
Navika Kumar, Managing Editor: Prime Minister you had given one slogan in 2014 in which you said you will make this country Congress-free. Now, there are many elections coming up in 2018. Now the Congress has been reduced to four states. There is an election in one Congress-ruled state in the south that is Karnataka. Besides that, Congress is ruling in Puducherry which is a union territory. So is your slogan of Congress-free India coming true?