When he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi would frequently call his predecessor, Manmohan Singh as “Maun Mohan”. However after becoming the Prime Minister, Modi never addressed a press conference in which he had to face questions from journalists.
Modi’s three interviews given to the press when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat are the most viewed on YouTube. Ironically, these interactions with the media show how Modi, not Dr Manmohan Singh, becomes silent (maun) when asked an uncomfortable question. He just fumbles, grumbles and keeps mum.
Let’s remain just friends, Modi tells Karan Thapar
During his second term as the Gujarat Chief Minister, Modi agreed to give an interview to CNN-IBN’s Karan Thapar. The interview took place in CM’s official residence in Gandhinagar.
All was going smooth till Karan Thapar broached the topic of post-Godhra carnage.
Thapar: The ghost of Godhra still haunts you, even five years after the killings of 2002. Why have you not done anything to exorcise the ghost?
Modi pulls off the microphone and asks for a glass of water.
Modi: This (task) I give it to media persons like Karan Thapar. Let them enjoy.
Thapar: Can I suggest something to you?
Modi: I have no problem.
Thapar: Why can’t you say that you regret the killings that happened? Why can’t you say maybe the government should have done more to protect Muslims?
Modi: You can find out my statements.
Thapar: Just say it again.
Modi: It is not necessary that I have to talk about it in 2007 everything you want to talk about.
Thapar: But by not saying it again, by not letting people hear the message repeatedly, you are allowing an image that is contrary to the interest of Gujarat to continue. It’s in your hands to change it.
Modi: Let us remain friends. Dost bane raho.
Modi then walked away.
When Modi felt a sudden urge for water
Modi’s second interview to a journalist was in 2009. The interview by NDTV journalist Vijai Tiwari took place on board a helicopter from where he could not walk out.
Trivedi was anchoring a show called ‘Chakravyuh’ in which he interviewed politicians.
He started his interview with a question on LK Advani’s prime ministerial ambitions. Modi found himself pushed to a corner when the journalist raised the issue of post-Godhra violence and asked Modi if he thought the BJP should apologise.
Modi said he had already spoken on this topic in many interviews. But the journalist persisted.
Modi’s throat suddenly went dry. He asked for water, ordered the pilot to land the helicopter and told the journalist to get down and travel by road.
Modi mum again on Gujarat carnage
Modi’s third most viewed interview on YouTube was that taken by Rajdeep Sardesai for CNN-IBN in 2012.
Talking about the interview, Sardesai later wrote in the Live Mint, “He gave me an interview just ahead of the 2012 Gujarat assembly elections, but made me sit on the footboard of a bus to take it. He was perhaps deriving pleasure from reminding me of my station in life as a reporter talking to a prospective national leader.”
Modi wished Rajdeep well at the end of the short interview.
Rajdeep: Would you like to say something about veteran leader Keshubhai leaving the BJP? Or is that a forgotten old chapter?
Modi did not reply.
Rajdeep: There are those who say that if Narendra Modi wants to become Prime Minister, he will have to apologise for 2002. Do you think this is correct? What do you want to say to the people who feel this way?
Modi: Thank you. I gave you a very detailed interview. I am grateful to you.
Rajdeep: So you will not answer this question? Sir, my question is that if Narendra Modi wants to become Prime Minister should he apologise for the 2002 riots and move ahead?
Modi remained silent.
Rajdeep: Thank you Mr Modi for this interview. Thank you very much.