Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Friday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not taking any questions at his first press conference since taking office five years ago. “Congratulations Modi Ji. Excellent Press Conference! Showing up is half the battle. Next time Mr Shah may even allow you to answer a couple of questions. Well done!” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
PM Modi left journalists disappointed on Friday as he refused to answer questions at what was supposed to be his first-ever press conference as prime minister.
As campaigning ended for the last round of voting for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections due on Sunday, PM Modi made a statement at the BJP headquarters but then deflected journalists’ questions to party chief Amit Shah sitting next to him.
“I am a disciplined soldier, the party president is everything for me,” PM Modi told one of two reporters who asked him a direct question.
“I have answered your question. It is not necessary for the PM to answer every question,” Mr Shah told another journalist.
PM Modi, 68, has never addressed a press conference since becoming prime minister of the world’s largest democracy in 2014. “The people have decided that this government should continue. Our government introduced a new culture of governance in India,” PM Modi said in his address.
Opposition leaders say he only gives interviews to networks and publications if he knows in advance what he will be asked. The questions are soft and often fawning, they allege.
Holding a press conference at the same time as PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi said, “It is an unprecedented event. I heard some journalists have been blocked from attending PM Modi’s press conference.”
“So I will ask him a question sitting here, why didn’t you answer any of my questions on Rafale?” he added, referring to the French fighter jets, the contract for which has become the focal point of the Congress’s attack on PM Modi. While Rahul Gandhi accuses PM Modi of crony capitalism in the deal, the government has denied any wrongdoing.
Rahul Gandhi also repeated his challenge to the Prime Minister of facing him in a debate.