On Friday evening, social media was awash with excitement when it was suddenly announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would address the first press conference of his five-year term at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters in Delhi. Television channels interrupted their regular programming to broadcast the event live. After having faced intense criticism for only granting softball interviews to sympathetic journalists, it seemed like Modi was finally going to hold himself open to rigorous questioning.
What an anti-climax it turned out to be.
At the event, Modi spoke to the assembled journalists about the election campaign and his party’s prospects in the Lok Sabha 2019 polls – but didn’t answer any questions. “It is not necessary for the prime minister to answer every question of yours,” declared BJP president Amit Shah who sat next to Modi at the event.
Shah then proceeded to address all the queries from the assembled journalists. This, naturally, was the cause for mirth and outrage on Twitter.
One user alluded to a comment Modi had made about his predecessor. Manmohan Singh, in 2017. “So many scams took place during all this time, but he got no stain on him,” Modi had declared in Parliament. “Only he knows the art of bathing in the bathroom wearing a raincoat.”
Even Congress President Rahul Gandhi got into the act.
Other users were more pointed.
Journalist Prem Panicker made a reference to Modi’s recent interview with News Nation, in which the questions appeared to have been given to him beforehand.
Kashmiri politician Omar Abdullah suggested that the journalists at the event had been carefully picked to ensure that there would be no hostile questions.
Congress strategist Amitabh Dubey took the opportunity to contrast the Modi event with a press conference by Rahul Gandhi, which took place at the same time.