The release of a promotional video for a television series featuring Narendra Modi on Monday brought attention back to allegations made by the Congress that the prime minister had continue the shoot in Corbett National Park on February 14 hours after 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel had been killed by a suicide bomber in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir.
“When the entire country was mourning the deaths of the jawans, Prime Minister Modi was shooting for a film at Corbett National Park and indulging in a boat ride to look at crocodiles,” Congress leader Randeep Surjewala alleged in a press conference a week after the attacks. “This film shooting went on till 6.30 pm that day. He had tea and snacks at 6.45 pm. It is horrific that till four hours after such an attack, Modi was busy with his own branding, photoshoot and snacks.”
The Congress released a photo that it claimed was proof of its allegations.
Later, unidentified sources were cited on NewsX television channel and a CNN-News18 journalist’s Twitter feed seeming to put the blame on National Security Advisor Ajit Doval: this line of defence suggested that Modi was unhappy with Doval for failing to inform him about the Pulwama attacks in time, presumably to explain why the prime minister had continued his engagement at Corbett.
Bear Grylls, host of the Discovery Channel show Man Vs Wild reportedly hinted about the shoot with a hush-emoji in tweet on January 26, saying, “And it is a GREAT day in India! Am coming there soon to shoot something very special…” The TV host posted another tweet with a selfie apparently taken on board his flight to India on February 12, the Indian Express reported. Both posts were later deleted.
The Bharatiya Janata Party responded to Opposition allegations that Modi had been callous by failing to abandon the shoot by claiming that the matter was being politicised.
The episode will premiere on Discovery Channel on August 12 at 9 pm. “People across 180 countries will get to see the unknown side of PM @narendramodi as he ventures into Indian wilderness to create awareness about animal conservation & environmental change,” the show’s host Grylls said in his tweet.
In a press release on Monday, the channel said that the “special episode, which has been shot in the Jim Corbett National Park, will be a frank and freewheeling journey, [and] throws light on wildlife conservation, highlighting issues related to environmental change”.
The episode will feature the prime minister talking at length about his own experiences of living in the midst of nature and demonstrating his adventurous side.
It quoted Modi as saying, “For years, I have lived among nature, in the mountains and the forests. These years have a lasting impact on my life. So when I was asked about a special programme focussing on life beyond politics and that too in the midst of nature I was both intrigued and inclined to take part in it.”
Modi added: “For me, this show presents a great opportunity to showcase to the world India’s rich environmental heritage and stress on the importance of environment conservation and living in harmony with nature. It was a great experience spending time in the jungle once again, this time with Bear, who is blessed with indefatigable energy and quest to experience nature at its purest.”