It’s vanishingly uncommon for Narendra Modi to instantly subject dwell questions from the press all through a close to decade in energy. So when the Indian prime minister took two questions from reporters at a White Home press occasion with Mr. Biden on Thursday, it was a notable second.
From the beginning of his time in workplace, Mr. Modi and his employees have been fastidious about controlling his message, and attempting to manage the media, generally. Although he loves speeches at public occasions, and has leaned into his monthly radio show as a option to ship messages to the nation, any publicity to unscripted occasions had been a no-go earlier than the White Home occasion, and doubtless will likely be once more afterward.
Mr. Modi’s aides insist that social media, which his occasion’s huge communications equipment has mastered, has made information conferences redundant. And different arms of the federal government do interact with reporters.
Mr. Modi’s shying away from media engagement goes again to his time as chief minister of Gujarat many years in the past. Underneath his watch, the state broke into widespread riots in 2002, and Mr. Modi was accused of wanting away — and even enabling — Hindu mobs who went on lethal rampages in Muslim neighborhoods.
Mr. Modi had lengthy rejected any wrongdoing. However he has additionally publicly mentioned that his largest failure throughout that point was that he couldn’t management the media — one thing he has assiduously pursued since then.
Dangling incentives of presidency promoting and making use of the stress techniques of tax raids and arrests, he has bent massive sections of India’s media, notably broadcast media, to his will to such an extent that almost all retailers confine themselves to doling out his official line.
Maybe the closest he has come to taking part in a proper information convention was on the day of his re-election in 2019, the place he appeared on the rostrum for one. However even then, he solely made a gap assertion. Who answered the precise questions? His right-hand man, Amit Shah, who’s now India’s highly effective residence minister.