Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Modiji Please Talk to Us
A quick flashback to the 2014 Election campaign showcases only one thing – Narendra Modi the communicator par excellence at work. People across the country lapped up what he had to say, not only the crowds at the BJP/NDA rallies but also the middle class and the intelligentsia. If the medium was the message then, wow, look at how he used the online media. Twitter was his favourite hunting ground and it was a wonderful way to communicate with the people over the heads of the Main Stream Media.
The humour, the felicity with the language, the assuredness of manner and the oratory mesmerized all and sundry. Ranged against him, primarily, was the mother-son duo of Sonia & Rahul Gandhi and then PM Manmohan Singh – not the best of communicators by any reckoning.
Modi rightly criticized the then PM for staying quiet in the face of serious allegations of corruption against his cabinet members. He even labeled him Maun Mohan Singh. All of us applauded Modi when he came up with these witticisms, both because he delivered them with a punch and because they hit home with stunning accuracy.
The rest is history – An electoral victory not seen in the last 30 years, for the NDA but essentially for Modi.
What contributed to this victory? Apart from the general disillusionment of the people against the UPA II government it was clearly Modi – The Communicator that turned the tide in the NDA’s favour.
Which is what brings me to the current situation, where is Modi the communicator on an issue that seems to be getting murkier by the day – The Lalit Modi episode. Actually it is hardly an episode; it is one continuing road show with tweets from LaMo on a regular basis. There is hardly a statement or even a tweet from the PM.
I find this odd and also at some level insulting. If one were to take a look at the PM's twitter feed there are tweets on a book release, meeting with ex-Australian PMs, wishing Luxembourg on its National Day etc but not a single tweet on the LaMo issue.
Why is there no response from the PM? Do we not need to know what the PM thinks on issues that concern his cabinet colleague and also a CM from his party? Is twitter only tell me that he has released some book and met some has-been Aussie politician?
If he is the ace communicator, which I am certain he is, he should communicate when the nation needs him to. Not just when he wishes to say something.
To give him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps there is no tweet on this issue because the wheels of the government are in motion and he would not like to engage publicly at this juncture. Now, this is absolutely right. Why jeopardise on-going investigations?
Or maybe the BJP/NDA is actually assessing the potential damage that could be caused by LaMo and is, therefore, a bit on the quiet side. While this is not a very comforting thought it is still absolutely acceptable. After all one would want to figure out the extent of the mess before tweeting about it.
Or it could be the thought that a news break about another issue would bury this one and therefore one need not worry about the same. Given the attention span that most of us and the TV channels have, this is a fair assumption.
Or it could be sheer brazenness. A ‘dekhte hain kya hoga’ attitude.
It is the last possibility that scares me no end.
The one common theme that I think I have observed in the PM is that he likes to engage on his own terms. Which is fine, who among us would not like to do that. But the issue is that most of us are not in government or even in politics. And therefore we can choose when we would like to communicate and when not. It will not hurt anyone or might impact only a few.
But when the PM of the country, who is otherwise fairly voluble, decides to clam up when something unpleasant about his party comes up it worries me a bit. There is clearly a mess due to the Lalit Modi revelations, I would want the PM to come forth and clarify the issue.
For all that I know not talking to the people on this issue maybe an absolute masterstroke but I for one would like a little more consistency in communication. Primarily because Narendra Modi has raised my expectations so much, that I would like him to address me when I need him to and not just when he wishes to.
Now is that too much to ask for?