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17 May, 2024 14:27

Modi reveals why he shies away from media

The Indian leader has said he stopped giving press conferences due to news ‘bias’
Modi reveals why he shies away from media

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking a rare third term in an ongoing parliamentary election where nearly a billion people are eligible to vote, has revealed that he does not do press conferences because the media is “no longer a non-partisan entity.”

In an interview given to television channel Aaj Tak Hindi as Modi campaigns for his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian leader explained that “journalists are identified with their own preferences.”

“Media is no longer a non-partisan entity,” he told the outlet. “Earlier, the media used to be faceless. People would read something and think of it as an analysis but today that is not the case.”

Modi often avoids unscripted moments and has not held a solo press conference since becoming prime minister in 2014. He did appear at a presser alongside Home Minister Amit Shah ahead of the last parliamentary election in 2019, but chose to redirect questions posed to him to Shah.

However, the Indian leader has furnished dozens of interviews in the lead-up to the ongoing Lower House (Lok Sabha) election which will determine the next government.

Modi’s critics from the opposition have questioned his reluctance to face the media in real-time. Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Congress party, recently said he was “100% prepared” to take on Modi in a debate – but suggested that the prime minister would not agree. Previously, Gandhi had described Modi’s interviews to television channels as “scripted.”

Meanwhile, leaders from the BJP have questioned the Western media’s critical coverage of Modi’s policies during the election. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar recently charged that the Western media is trying to be a “political player” in the Indian vote.

A series of reports have raised doubts about the credibility of the Indian election, given the threats posed by Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularly “deepfakes,” as well as posing concerns over “divisions within the country.”

Reuters, for instance, noted that there is hardly any “critical evaluation” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India's mainstream television channels, nor in most newspapers. According to the agency, the politician’s critics are migrating to online spaces.

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