For a spotlight hungry person like Narendra Modi to stay clear of ‘celebrating’ his 6th year in government, he must be very afraid. Courage has never been a trait of Modi, which reflects in his fear of facing the media. He hasn’t once had the courage to take questions from the opposition or the media—despite the media treating him with kid gloves. Even when he interacted with pliable media which asked him trivial questions, he fumbled to conceal his fear and ignorance. That’s perhaps why he prefers one-way communication, often at 8pm when he appears on TV to address the nation, when not attending big-bang PR events to bolster his evanescent self-confidence.
In normal times, he would have appeared on TV to thank people and prop up his image. But this time he chose to write a letter to the nation, rather than speak on TV. The title ‘You the People’, almost sounds like he’s blaming the people for his maladministration. With little substance he penned down what he felt are the achievements of his government, barely managing to veil the rhetoric and dog-whistling. He made no reference to demonetization, or the ill planned GST; he made no reference to the security situation on our borders or the economic peril the country is in; he avoided referring to the massive NPAs during his term and how under him India faces the highest unemployment rate in 40 years—he left them out because he has no idea how to deal with them.
But for Narendra Modi to not make a TV appearance is intriguing. After all, he’s famous for videos across several dramatic genres—from fitness freak to obedient son—he’s done it all. So why is he afraid of another video appearance? Is he losing his voice because India is beginning to speak up?
As people die in trains, the railways minister is clueless. As migrant workers are walking themselves to exhaustion, often to their deaths, the BJP’s spokesperson could recall the name of the labour minister—which he couldn’t find on Google quickly enough. Meanwhile the health minister isn’t active despite India being in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. Yet, a few days ago, the BJP posted a video celebrating 6 years of the BJP on a day the nation was grieving the migrant workers who were killed in Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh. The response to it from people was so severe that the BJP cowered into an anxious silence.
As people began speaking up, which was seen in the massive response to the Congress led ‘Speak Up India’ campaign, the BJP is perhaps beginning to fear the people. All these years, with the help of a pliant media that doubled up as his PR agency, he managed to insulate himself and the BJP from the people’s wrath. With so many people speaking up and posting heartfelt videos of themselves—unlike the messages of the BJP’s anonymous troll army—the BJP, is afraid to make public appearances. As India speaks up, Modi has lost his voice. He has taken to writing letters—perhaps trying to emulate one of his party’s inspirations who was famous/notorious for writing ‘mercy petitions’.