Modi’s US trip for UN session just an opportunity for Godi media to give a fresh sheen to his image

It’s imperative for PM Modi to step back into the limelight. To aid the mission, some media houses have deputed as many as five to six reporters and photojournalists to the US to cover his trip

Modi’s US trip for UN session just an opportunity for Godi media to give a fresh sheen to his image

Sushil Kutty

It’s but natural for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to set the stage for India. Therefore, when he takes a flight to the United States after a long Covid absence from travel, he’s signalling to all the rest of us that no more should we spend time worrying about the coronavirus and Covid-19. Right?

Modi is spending time in Washington DC and New York, with a clutch of high-profile meetings scheduled, including with US President Joe Biden and US Vice President Kamala Harris. It is unlikely Modi and Biden will ‘hug’, but pictures show a mask-less Modi mingling with the Indian diaspora minutes after he landed in Washington DC.

So, should Indians at home take that as a signal to abandon the mask, and give up social distancing? If a mask-less Modi is not a Covid risk to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, to the Indian diaspora, and to folks at the United Nations, then to hell with all pretense! “Follow the leader” is sound advice, and good practice.

In any case, it’s about time Indians paid back to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the same coin that he pays the people with. Journalist Rana Ayyub has, for example, taken the saying to heart. Also, anti-CAA activist Safoora Zargar, who was jailed when in the family way. The lady is now out on bail, but there is no let-up in her CAA-spawned anger.

Rana Ayyub has in an opinion piece for the latest issue of the Washington Post asked the “world” to hold Prime Minister Narendra Modi ”accountable”, saying that Modi has made it a practice to “go after journalists like me”. Somebody in India’s missions in the United States must have taken note, but it’s unlikely that the Biden Administration will hold Modi accountable on Rana's say-so.

Rana is naïve. According to the External Affairs Ministry, Narendra Modi in Washington DC and New York will discuss Covid-19, Afghanistan, the Quad and Climate Change, which is quite close to Biden’s heart, unlike Donald Trump, for whom Climate Change was a figment of Hillary’s and Obama’s imagination!

What stands out about this Modi trip abroad is the publicity blitzkrieg, the saturation media-coverage of the man whose beard and head of hair has been given both a neat trim. In the absence of trips abroad for upwards of a year and a half, Modi has been missing the global attention that marked his first term.

This last year has been particularly bad for Modi’s image. The West Bengal assembly elections defeat, and the Covid-19 disaster, for example. Modi’s domestic ratings have fallen dramatically. The ‘Mood of the Nation’ survey painted a grim picture. It couldn’t be worse in all his 70 years.

A lot of global damage was done by Rana with her WaPo opinion pieces. Therefore, Rana’s conviction that Modi is taking revenge! She says the Modi Government is targeting those who worked for the welfare of the Covid-19 hit. People like Sonu Sood and Harsh Mander. Sood did yeoman’s service to the Covid-bereaved, and to the tens of thousands of migrant workers who lost their jobs, and were left to fend for themselves.

It’s become imperative for Narendra Modi to come out of these negatives and step back into a limelight soft and benign, not harsh and malignant. A big swathe of the Indian media are invested in giving a fresh sheen to Modi’s sullied image. To aid the mission, media houses have left nothing to chance. The big ones have sent five to six reporters and photojournalists to the USA.

(IPA Service)

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