Television has ensured that the 16th Lok Sabha elections give the people of India an opportunity to get up close and personal with the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Indian TV’s Rajat Sharma kept the country glued to its television screens on a Saturday night for close to two hours. The occasion was Modi’s entry into people’s drawing rooms.
Rajat Sharma’s famous TV programme Aap Ki Adalat aired Narendra Modi’s trial by media in a jam packed studio where the chants of “Modi, Modi” kept interrupting the proceedings at regular intervals. The atmosphere in the studio was reminiscent of Modi’s larger than life election rallies. Had it not been for the presence of Sharma, masquerading as a lawyer inches away from Modi, one would have been forgiven for mistaking the TV show for a typical Modi rally.
The nation was eagerly awaiting an interview with Narendra Modi, mostly to watch him get grilled by the media. As usual, Modi detractors have termed the interview as fixed, with the anchor asking him easy questions. The remarkable aspect of this interview was Narendra Modi answered all the questions put to him either by the anchor or by the audience to the point. He, not even once, diverted from the questions. But the Modi detractors are not satisfied.
On the other hand, those who admire Narendra Modi are feeling euphoric because their leader has addressed the nation at a crucial juncture when every vote counts. Be that as it may, the fact remains that Narendra Modi has come to mean different things to different people. There are some who see him as a polarising figure, others who see in him what it takes to unite the country by bringing about awe inspiring development. When it comes to this Narendra Modi interview, the jury will continue to remain out until the next thing comes up, from the man who arouses different passions in different people.
Modi usually does not give interviews because the interviewers refuse to move beyond 2002. The stigma of 2002 is a looming figure in any interview. But 'Aap Ki Adalat' was different in a sense that the focus was on the Modi detractors, BJP’s inner turmoil with respect to its senior leaders, how the country perceives Modi or what new his premiership will have in store for the country.
The important messages that this interview sends out are interesting and comforting to those who fear Narendra Modi.
First and foremost, the minorities have no reasons to be scared of Narendra Modi. If he becomes the prime minister, he will ensure that there is no threat or harm to the minorities.
Secondly, the era of politics of minority appeasement will end under his rule. All-are-Indians-and-therefore-equal will be the thought process that he as prime minister will seek to inculcate in every citizen of India.
Thirdly, those who want to indulge in corruption and acts of looting the country will be dealt with a firm hand. Narendra Modi will not tolerate corruption and he will not allow plundering of nation’s wealth under his watch.
Fourthly, India will be a safe country for women and to drive home his point he cited the example of Gujarat where young girls ride their bikes in the middle of nights during the Navratri festival fearlessly. He assured the women in a reply to a question that if this is possible in Gujarat, it will be possible everywhere in India.
That said, Narendra Modi’s hitherto unknown side of personality was on display in 'Aap Ki Adalat'. For example, he took his audiences by surprise when he thanked Azam Khan for his diatribe. His sparkling wit sparked off a roar of laughter when he observed that a dog is the most loyal companion of humans. It was Modi, the rockstar who was in the dock and not Modi, the politician whom we have got so used to seeing at election rallies attacking the Congress and the Samajvadi Party while brandishing his chest of 56 inches.
The timing of the interview is going to obviously benefit Narendra Modi and his party in terms of electoral gains. This is why it is not surprising to find his detractors crying foul and alleging that the interview was fixed. This Modi tsunami looks unstoppable and what is remarkable in this Lok Sabha election are chants of Modi. If these are not the grounds well of support and Modi wave, what are they? More importantly, this Modi interview has shown that in the days to come India will be fortunate enough to have a prime minister who will hold forth on the important issues.