I decided on this column a week back but only wrote it now. As I write, BJP has got a decisive mandate and NDA will have a government. The stock market has shot up. If the stock markets are any indicator, the much-awaited Narendra Modi interview with Times Now’s Arnab Goswami was a sweeping success. On May 9, a day after the interview, the Indian Stock Exchange registered a whooping gain of 6,898 points – the highest in 31 months.
Market experts gave the credit for this record jump to the confidence expressed by the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate to form a “strong and most stable government since Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure”. Unlike Rahul Gandhi, whose interview with Arnab in January-end was a butt of unforgettable jokes, Modi was applauded from all sections of the country after the interview. Modi appeared as a picture of poise and confidence, as against Rahul who had faltered many times during his interview.
Right from the beginning of the interview, Modi kept the answers straight even as he discussed the infamous 2002 Gujarat riots, Snoopgate, the Gandhis, why the party is protesting against the EC in Varanasi, post-poll alliances and more.
Modi came across as an evolved speaker and stood up to the challenge of Arnab’s piercing questions. On the 2002 riots, Modi crisply said: “I feel that on the subject of the Gujarat riots, the Judiciary has been vibrant and has exhibited its activism. The media too has been vibrant on the subject and the NGOs and international agencies have been overactive. After all this scrutiny, I feel, let them draw their own conclusions. They don’t need a certificate from Modi. They shouldn’t even bank on a certificate from Modi. They shouldn’t have the slightest shred of belief in a certificate from Modi. Only Constitutional authorities should be trusted.”
Modi’s confidence got him a thumbsup from the very active social media too. The interview registered 17 crore Twitter impressions in a day. Facebook also received fireball reactions.
Modi appeared well-researched on foreign policy matters too. On Pakistan, he displayed a positivity that the country has been waiting for. Asked if India will continue talks with Pakistan even if it remained high on terror, Modi asked Arnab to be positive. “Why are you being negative? I am being positive. I believe that as the country advances in all aspects, we shall reach a positive relationship with Pakistan,” Modi said. He was also rational. On being asked if he will be tough on the US for spying on Indian embassies, Modi said, “I cannot react based on media reports. Once we form a government and I receive the actual information, a decision shall be made on our reaction.”
Modi took the media head-on but also praised it. When asked about the “daughter” comment on Priyanka Gandhi and the controversy that followed, he said, “I am shocked at how Times Now is so insistent on protecting a particular family. Is it not Times Now’s responsibility to show what I have said about Rajiv Gandhi to the world?” But later he also went on to credit Times Now for its interviews and coverage.
Raising the question of selling land at different rates to the Adanis and Tatas, Arnab asked why this differentiation was being made. To this, Modi replied that the land of the Tatas was in Ahmedabad, which would obviously cost more than the land that was bought by the Adanis in a marshy area, where nothing could be produced.
Modi answered every question posed to him, remained assertive and was sometimes even aggressive enough to challenge Arnab. “You should do good research before you pose questions,” he told Arnab, even asking him to support his questions with proof instead of beating about the bush.
But Modi was a man to accept his mistakes too. When asked why he had appreciated the work of Mamata Banerjee earlier, but had become critical of her as the campaign progressed, he replied that when he had first met Mamata, he had positive hopes about the state. Admitting that he had not done full research before going to West Bengal, Modi stated that he was stunned to receive information about the worsening conditions in the state, and had realised that he should have spoken after doing thorough research.
Asked by Goswami about the embarrassing Snoopgate controversy – the Gujarat Police’s surveillance of a woman Modi allegedly had or wanted to have an affair with – Modi said what any politician would say: the matter is subjudice, let the Supreme Court decide. Modi never appeared to be uncomfortable. His body language was assertive and he listened to every question very carefully.
Unlike Rahul Gandhi, Modi was not fumbling for words. He sounded like a man who had a vision for national development, saying things like the importance of Kolkata as a regional economic hub for the east, and that as Prime Minister he would have to take everybody along in the national interest, even Times Now.
In a later interview, even Arnab praised Modi as a “picture of complete confidence”, which is a rare acknowledgement. While comparisons are unavoidable, Arnab sought space for Rahul and said “the two leaders are different and the interviews should be treated differently”.
For once, people did tune in to Times Now to catch the live interview of Modi, set to take over as the Prime Minister of the country now. The country needs a change and hopes Modi’s confidence and positivity displayed on television will boost the dwindling Indian economy. Modi used the platform given to him by Arnab efficiently and pushed through his vision for India, and this is going to prop up his image as a strong leader out to change the future of the country. Modi’s win should be good for India and a stable government is good for the country.