Prime Minister Narendra Modi's interview with The Indian Express published on Sunday has garnered a wide range of reactions from activists and journalists. Modi, in reference to the posh Khan Market area in New Delhi, said that his "image" as the Prime Minister had not been built by the "Khan Market gang" and hence could not be "dismantled". The prime minister was referring to the Lutyens' politicians.
"Modi’s image has not been created by the Khan Market gang, or Lutyens Delhi, but 45 years of his toil… good or bad. You cannot dismantle it. But Lutyens and the Khan Market gang created an image for a former Prime Minister, ‘Mr Clean, Mr Clean’."
Congress' national spokesperson Sanjay Jha, known for witty one-liners, tweeted, "Khan Market. I guess he doesn't like the name."
Jha's tweet is likely to be in reference to one of the Opposition's accusations against Modi, that the communal divide in the country has increased over the last five years that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government has been in power at the Centre.
Modi was speaking in reference to the current controversy around his comments on former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, when he called the late Congress leader "Corrupt No 1".
The prime minister's comment was also in criticism of Congress president Rahul Gandhi's comment in an interview recently. Rahul had said, "The prime minister can’t stand on a stage and say the things he was saying in 2014. We have dismantled the Prime Minister of India."
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi spoke to reporters after casting her vote in the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha election on Sunday, and said that if Modi had even meditated for 50 hours, "he would not be saying things like this."
Activist Jignesh Mevani said Modi has a problem with "liberal bourgeoisie" but industrialists like "Ambani, Adani, and Vedanta group" are Modi's "best friends".
Now Modi has a problem with so-called ‘khan market gang’ as it is apparently the only real face of liberal bourgeoisie it seems
Lekin apne best friends: Ambani, Adani aur Vedanta Gang ko poora desh bech daalna toh ‘pro-poor’ hai. https://t.co/DvOt7T8kzz
— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) May 12, 2019
Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai asked why Modi had made Delhi's elite community his "new enemy", because it is his "voter base".
Very engaging, must read interview or PM @narendramodi in @IndianExpress . Although am not clear why the PM chooses to make ‘Khan Market’ crowd his new enemy now since that is his voter base.. time to strip of labels and start dialogue with all sir! https://t.co/VjboXmZrNT
— Citizen/नागरिक/Dost Rajdeep (@sardesairajdeep) May 12, 2019
Author Krishan Partap Singh said that Modi's image had "actually" been created by the "Lodhi Garden morning walk gang".
Actually Modi’s image was created by “Lodhi Garden morning walk gang”, just down the road from Khan Market... https://t.co/WoZkhZDvkn
— Krishan Partap Singh (@RaisinaSeries) May 12, 2019
Author Ashok Swain said, "Khan Market is named in honor of Freedom fighter Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan, brother of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan - Modi, Change its name to Godse Market, in honor of terrorist Gopal Godse, brother of Nathuram Godse!"
Swati Chaturvedi, senior journalist, also attempted humour in her response to the interview. She also tweeted, "So after “urban naxals” Khan market is the new enemy for Modi."
Modi seemed pretty upset with the @IndianExpress apart from khan market
— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) May 12, 2019
When visiting Khan Market next, avoid cloudy days pic.twitter.com/5fPCw8xF0l
— Jairaj Singh (@JairajSinghR) May 12, 2019
Others drew comparisons between the IE interview with Rahul and the one with Modi:
I don’t know whose idea it is to get Rahul Gandhi to give relaxed interviews in daylight on the road or at rallies to reporters but it’s working well.Nice contrast with Mr. Modi’s imperial, formal interactions with movie stars & genuflecting big shots in controlled surroundings
— vir sanghvi (@virsanghvi) May 11, 2019
What shines through in this Modi interview by Indian Express is Modi’s disgust of his critics, of liberals and of any media that’s not willing to be his propaganda mouthpiece. Especially note his relentless attack on the Express itself. Unseemly. https://t.co/aErSml9ao2
— Shivam Vij (@DilliDurAst) May 12, 2019
Some senior journalists also criticised the paper for its treatment of the interview.
Striking difference between Modi and Rahul’s interview in @IndianExpress. 6 column headline on page 1 plus a 2 page spread for Modi. Single column teaser plus a full page in Sunday paper for Rahul. Will Express explain the differential treatment?
— nikhil wagle (@waglenikhil) May 12, 2019
Not a single follow up question. There are some probing questions on muslims and nationalism but he is allowed to get away with his half baked defence. No question on Pragya Thakur, lynchings, govt support to guj riot accused, press conference by PM. https://t.co/DkDnMprOlR
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) May 12, 2019
Most notably, in an interview that spans various topics including taunts directed at the elite community in Khan Market, Modi spoke about his comments on Rajiv. After calling Rajiv "Corrupt No 1", Modi on 8 May, alleged that Rajiv used the now decommissioned naval warship INS Viraat as a “personal taxi”, during a 10-day trip to Bangaram island in Lakshadweep in 1987. Modi also accused the Gandhi family of compromising national security.
In the interview, Modi said that he did speak against Opposition leaders in his campaign speeches unless there are remarks that "he has to respond to". Justifying his allegations against Rajiv over INS Viraat, he said that he had brought it up because Congress president Rahul Gandhi had implied that Modi was trying to use the Indian Army as his "personal property".
"From where did this INS (Viraat) subject come? This is not a new issue that I wasn’t aware of. Why did it come? When the Congress president, at a press conference, says that the Army isn’t a personal jaagir (property) of Modi — all of you missed this —then I have to say what’s it like to have a personal fiefdom.
"Rajiv Gandhi is not my issue. You are free to highlight Rajiv Gandhi, if you want to help him. It is your call. These things were reported by The Indian Express even then, these admirals did not step out then. Kehte hain ki baat niklegi toh dur talak jayegi (It’s said that when talk starts, you never know where it will end)," he said.
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Updated Date: May 12, 2019 15:07:19 IST