PM Narendra Modi
PM Narendra Modi
AP/PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a rather contentious relationship with the media. From "getting along well" to actively shunning the company of some scribes, many journalists have taken it upon themselves to pen their remembrances. And one of the common points seem to be the 2002 Godhra riots.

Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai claims in a November 2014 article for Livemint that having met the future Prime Minister in 1990 the two had gotten along well. The affable relationship however took a southward turn in the wake of the 2002 riots. "The 2002 riots changed the Modi-media equation, as indeed it did my own relationship with the man," Sardesai writes. He says that over the months and years following the violent clash, Modi had begun viewing the media with increasing hostility.

Journalist Karan Thapar has a similar story. In an excerpt from his book, Devil's Advocate: The Untold Story, that was published by The Wire, he writes about how BJP leaders and politicians had actively shunned him in the wake of the 2014 polls.

"...the vast majority, with whom I used to get on extremely well, found reasons or excuses to shun me within a year of Mr Modi becoming prime minister," he writes. Thapar says that he had made many an attempt to uncover the reasons why, even meeting with Amit Shah, and calling up Arun Jaitley and others to find out what the issue was.

Thapar's conclusion here seems to be that it is Prime Minister Modi's influence that makes him persona non grata for the BJP. The root of it, he believes, lies in a 2007 interview, that Modi, then contesting for the job of Chief Minister, had walked out of within three minutes. Thapar claims that Modi had been "riled" after the former wondered by the BJP leader could not say that he "regret the killings that happened".

Modi however wanted the past to be left there, and said that he had said all he wanted to in the wake of the clash. Having exhaused his patience, he began to take the microphone off.

"Yet even then Modi did not show any anger or even nastiness. The tape of these three minutes, which CNN-IBN repeatedly broadcast the next day, has Modi saying: ‘Apni dosti bani rahe. Bas. I’ll be happy. You came here. I am happy and thankful to you. I can’t do this interview … Aapke ideas hain, aap bolte rahiye, aap karte rahiye…Dekho mein dostana sambhand banana chahta hoon (They are your ideas, you keep speaking … I want to maintain friendly relations with you)," Thapar writes. He adds that for an hour after that, Modi had played host, plying the scribe with snacks.

The journalist claims that there was another conversation between the two after the abbreviated interview ran on TV, where Modi had said that "Mere kandhe pe bandook rakh ke aap goli mar rahe ho."

"Modi laughed. I will never forget what he then said. ‘Karan brother, I love you. Jab main Delhi aaonga bhojan karenge (We’ll have a meal together when I’m in Delhi)’," Thapar writes.

This however would never happen.

Free Press Journal

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