Politics

Modi’s Interaction with School Children was Part ‘Scripted’, Newspaper Claims

The Prime Minister may not be in the habit of reading written texts. But were some of the questions and answers on September 4 prepared in advance?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an interaction with school children on the eve of Teacher's Day at Manekshaw Centre, in New Delhi on Friday. Credit: PTI Photo by Atul Yadav

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an interaction with school children on the eve of Teacher’s Day at Manekshaw Centre, in New Delhi on Friday. Credit: PTI Photo by Atul Yadav

New Delhi: Was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s seemingly impromptu interaction with students in the Capital on the eve of Teacher’s Day, in part, a scripted question and answer session?

During his 90-minute interaction on September 4, Modi took several questions from students and answered them in great detail. The Dainik Bhaskar reports [Hindi link] that some of these questions were not posed by students on the spur of the moment but had, in fact, been given to them well in advance by Ministry of Human Resource Development officials in consultation with the PMO.

“There was a pre-decided script. Bhaskar has been given this information by officers connected with the programme and students who had asked questions, as also their schools. Students were allowed to ask Modi about his dream projects, his attire and his habits,” the newspaper said, adding that some of Modi’s answers to these questions seemed aimed at his political opponents.

Preparations for the interaction began a month in advance. As per the newspaper’s sources, the students and the schools were selected by Irani herself and then a team of 15 people prepared the questions and showed these to the PMO and the HRD ministry.

After a green signal from the PMO, the questions were sent to the schools. Then the schools were asked to send details of the students shortlisted to ask these questions. According to the interest of the students, the questions were given to them. The students were then trained on what their  ‘body language’ should be like when they were asking the questions.

The students were also directed to turn up properly for the event – with their hair combed well and their identity cards clearly displayed. The students were also trained on how they should patiently listen to the answer after they had posed their question. This was done to ensure that there were no odd moments, the newspaper reported.

The script was played out to perfection. Ironically, when he appeared before nearly 800 students at Manekshaw Auditorium, the newspaper said, Modi spoke on several issues on which he had been silent till now and seemed to take on the opposition while answering questions pertaining to his dress sense, the choice of June 21 for International Yoga Day and even his habit of not reading from a prepared text.

What went unnoticed to millions watching the programme live was that the question and answer round was itself a prepared one.

A look at the questions also reveals how they sought to portray Modi in a larger than life form. “Everybody likes your dressing sense. You are a brand ambassador. Modi kurta has become very popular. How did the idea of this dressing sense come to you,” asked one Delhi student, even though every word – according to Dainik Bhaskar – had been drafted by ministry officials.

Modi went along in all earnest. He replied, “There is a myth in the market. Modi does not have a fashion designer, still some fashion designers claim this. I left home at a very young age and roamed around for 30-40 years …. I used to wear a kurta pyjama and would wash it myself. An idea came to my mind, and I cut short its arms. Now if some fashion designer were to stake claim to the idea, what can I do. …… we should wear clothes as per the occasion. It has its own importance.”

No designer wear

According to Dainik Bhaskar, the question assumed significance because Modi is accused by his opponents of wearing expensive, stylish clothes. During US President Barack Obama’s visit, a major controversy arose when he wore a suit  which had his name, Narendra Damodardas Modi, written all over it in the form of pin-stripes. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had claimed that Modi’s suit was made in Britain and was worth Rs 10 lakh. The suit was subsequently auctioned and bought by a Surat-based diamond merchant for Rs 4.31 crore. Modi used the interaction with students to insist that he does not wear designer labels.

On June 21 being declared International Yoga Day by the United Nations on India’s demand, Modi was asked by a student to how the idea of making the suggestion came to his mind.

Since June 21 is the death anniversary of Keshav Baliram Hegdewar, who had founded the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh in 1925, and the Congress has alleged that this day was chosen to honour the RSS founder, Modi used the question to answer his critics.

He said June 21 was chosen because “the sun is the source of energy and on June 21, India experiences its longest day (Summer Solstice) and so receives the maximum amount of solar energy. So, June 21 was suggested and it was adopted.”

‘Mastery on oratory’

There was another question – on written speeches – which Modi also used to target his opponents. When a student asked him, “you never deliver a written speech. How did you develop your mastery on oratory”, Modi spoke extensively. “Before speaking you should first listen well … you should develop the habit of making notes … refer to them when necessary .. bring sharpness in what you have to say … but I never did this. I do not keep a paper with me because when I do, it creates problems.”

The reference to “problems”, Dainik Bhaskar claimed, was a a jibe at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Rahul read from notes scribbled on a sheet of paper during the monsoon session of Parliament too and a photograph of his note – with Hindi sentences written in Roman text – went viral on social media. While BJP leaders had ridiculed him, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had even quipped that those who read from notes often repeat themselves, the newspaper wrote.

Modi may not be in the habit of reading written texts. But were some of the questions and answers on September 4 prepared in advance?

If some of the questions were planted by the MHRD as Dainik Bhaskar claims, others were not.  A correspondent for the Prabhat Khabar in Patna – who spoke to the student from there who got to ask a question – noted that the student said he chose the question himself and that other than a ‘technical rehearsal’ had received no instructions.

Note: The story has been edited to add information from Patna in the last paragraph.

  • True Nationalist -Secularist

    Gimmicks of Modi gets exposed once again, just like Hoax Model of Gujarat stands exposed now. Gujarat is lagging behind Bihar. Gujarat had growth done all these years simply just by high borrowings for last 10 years. Now Gujarat has High Debt/ GDP ratio , higher than national average. Modi’s development model stands exposed with his Poor Governance and his Governance through Remote operations by RSS. RSS, Hindu Maha Sabha are big blot on Indian society same way as SIMI, VHP, BajRang Dal, Maoist, ULFA. all these Inolerant elements lead by RSS/ SIMI / ULFA/ Maoistetc should be banned.

  • Internet Guardian

    Modi proves again he is a propagandist

  • Harish

    ‘Monologue modi’ continues. If he is asked some questions- as happened in the parliament and in one earlier interview with Karan Thapar, Modi is left with parched lips asking for water. To give him where credit is due, he is good at memorising like an actor and parroting in front of an audience. And bhakts believe in his oratory.

  • I neednot work for a living

    Indian media cannot accept any good things as it well managed so they have to find out stories. Even if it is scripted what is there. In fact it is done so that students can learn something. What PM is doing it is not easy tasks. In fact World leader amazed watching Modi giving speech for 80 minutes with facts and figure without any paper.

    • Renjith

      There is something known as teleprompter.. with this you can make oneself appear as not reading out. The very evidence that Modi uses one is this. Please watch carefully and tell.

      • I neednot work for a living

        In international English speech, one script is written and Modi memories it and delivers. There is no evidence for tele prompter. That is used mainly during questions and answer. But you can not make extempore with this instrument help,

  • Rakesh Edavalath

    I am not a great fan of Modi. But there seems to be a vicious propaganda aimed at defaming him. The article seems to be totally unsubstantiated as they are not quoting anybody. A website publishes a news that some other newspaper is claiming that Modi’s speech was scripted.I dont think this is good journalism. I have attached the letter written to secretaries seeking names of students’ names for the program. It was not months before as the article claims.

    • http://sky-properties.in Mayur Panghaal

      This letter merely asks schools to suggest achievers who will ask a question to the PM.Nowhere does it state that they can ask whatever they want to.Dont be an alibi for someone who compares badal to Nelson Mandela.

  • RajuCharles

    Question and answer!

  • GEORGE THOMAS

    I saw on video Modi was answering nonsense to children when they asked about Global warming. What a wonderful PM for India!

  • http://sky-properties.in Mayur Panghaal

    Not only this…now it is emerging that the entire ‘town-hall’ event at Facebook headquarters was also carefully scripted.This time confirmed by none other than the executive editor of Cnet ..a technology publication with nothing to do with India.People and journalists were sponsored for an all paid trip to Facebook.Business class tickets were arranged…and everything was made to look like it happened on the spur of the moment !! This is deception to the highest degree !! This country is headed for dark days !!God help us all !!