Opposition leaders on Friday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s press meet with Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah. Modi held his first “press conference” in five years, but did not answer a single question posed to him, instead directing reporters to Shah.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi mocked the press briefing. “Congratulations Modi Ji. Excellent Press Conference!” he tweeted. “Showing up is half the battle. Next time Mr Shah may even allow you to answer a couple of questions. Well done!”
Congress leader Ahmed Patel said Modi has lowered the dignity of the prime minister’s office. “Never seen a press conference where someone else is answering questions on your behalf,” he tweeted. “There was no need to lower the dignity of the office of the prime minister just to prove a point.”
The Congress posted a series of tweets mocking the press meet, including speculating about what the prime minister might have been thinking while Shah was answering questions.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah took a jibe at Shah’s assertion that some journalists too joined the Main Bhi Chowkidar campaign. “Amit Shah doesn’t forget to thank the embedded BJP workers disguised as journalists,” he tweeted. Abdullah also retweeted a columnist who said: “Apparently this needs restating, so here goes: press conference is an event where journalists ask people unscripted questions and they answer.”
Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik said Modi proved that he lacks the ability to face the press. “Modi met the press days before the 16th Lok Sabha is to be dissolved,” he said. “But without answering any question, he said he will not speak in the presence of the BJP chief. He did this to avoid being questioned. He has proven that he cannot answer the questions of the press, that he is incapable of it.”
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien retweeted a user who said that this would be the prime minister’s first and last press meet.
Modi claimed at the meet that the BJP will win 300 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, an assertion Shah concurred with. However, the prime minister did not answer any questions, instead allowing Shah to do so. “Party chief is supreme,” said Modi as he diverted a question to Amit Shah. Later, when a reporter insisted Modi answer a question, Shah said, “I am answering. It is not necessary that the prime minister answer every question...the question is baseless.”
Shah also praised Modi profusely during the press briefing, highlighting his hard work and achievements over the past five years. The BJP chief also claimed that the people’s faith in democracy had been restored during the five years of Modi’s rule.