So how was the Narendra Modi interview on Times Now? It was recorded on Thursday morning, and if the response on social media is any indication, it was a huge hit. Here are a few observations:
>> Times Now v/s the rest:
I am not sure if Narendra Modi is going to grant an interview to other English news channels, but the fact that he spoke first to Arnab Goswami and not others (Rajdeep, Barkha etc) is a big plus for Times Now.
>> Did Arnab manage to pin him down?
It wasn’t a softie like many other interviews. He did probe and asked him the tough questions. But was he aggressive with him as he was with Rahul Gandhi? No. With Arnab, even before he asks his questions, his body language gives away his outlook towards the guest. In the case of Modi, he was decidedly on the backfoot.
>> How did Narendra Modi fare?
I think the Arnab interview was an excellent opportunity for Modi to project his views. In fact senior journalist and financial analyst Debashis Basu tweeted as it was being aired: Arnab thought he will do an interview. @narendramodi has converted it into an address to the nation.
>> How was Modi vis-a-vis Rahul Gandhi?
Just no comparison. Rahul’s interview with Arnab was a disaster for him. Until then, we had just heard stories about the Cong veep being a disappointment. The interview confirmed it. It was Rahul’s first propah interview on television; Modi’s one-on-one to Arnab wasn’t his first. And clearly the PM-in-waiting was confident enough to face the googlies from the ed-in-chief. The only question that saw Modi flummoxed was on his definition of Hinduism.
>> My score on the interview:
5/10 for Arnab, 8/10 for Modi. The scores for the Rahul Gandhi interview would be: 8/10 for Arnab, 2/10 for Rahul. My sense is that Arnab, too, figured that the interview was no great shakes. He wasn’t as buoyant as he was at the end of the RaGa interview. Also, he didn’t get the likes of Vinod Mehta and Siddhartha Varadarajan to appraise the Modi interview, as he did immediately after the RaGa interview.
Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and editor. When he’s not chasing news, he’s watching it. Twitter: @pmahesh