I can’t still get over the interview that Arnab Goswami did of Narendra Modi on Thursday. It was aired many times after that, though the Times Now editor-in-chief didn’t go to town with it at 9 pm just as he had after the Rahul Gandhi interview.
At first, I thought Arnab had not subjected the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate in the same way as he had put Rahul Gandhi on the mat. So, I watched the Rahul interview yet again before writing this.
The interview was very self-congratulatory. Arnab was delighted with the fact that HE was granted the interview, and not Rajdeep Sardesai or Barkha Dutt or Prannoy Roy or Karan Thapar or Rahul Kanwal. Everyone had expected NDTV 24x7 to be given the first TV interview, given that Prannoy or Barkha wouldn’t ask the Congress veep the tough questions.
Arnab was not very aggressive with Rahul too, but the difference in both the tête-à-têtes was the way Modi tackled Arnab. Save the mess-up on the question on Hinduism, the BJP strongman was in total control. He knew how to face the camera, he knew what kind of facial expressions and hand movements would work on viewers, and he tried to project that he was giving direct answers, when, in fact, he wasn’t doing that for many of the questions.
Clearly, Arnab is dramatically different on Newshour, or whenever he’s taking on softer personalities. When he gets into the inquisition mode with biggies like Modi, Rahul Gandhi or Raj Thackeray, he’s a different person. While you can’t fault him for not posing nasties, he doesn’t get overly aggro. For instance, he didn’t ask Rahul about Robert Vadra. And he didn’t push Modi on apologising on Godhra.
This was of course Modi’s nth interview in the last few weeks; that was Rahul’s first. In order to face volleys from an Arnab Goswami and then come out trumps, you need to be a pro. I am not sure, though, if Rahul will still be able to face them from Arnab — or perhaps he will.
Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and editor. When he’s not chasing news, he’s watching it. Twitter: @pmahesh