Since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has never held a press conference; a press meet was never on his agenda, and in the recent past, when there was a press conference in the White House, an American journalist asked an embarrassing question to Modi that created a lot of unrest on social media. Maybe to avoid such awkward situations, Modi avoids press meetings. He just obliges his mouthpieces by going to their studios for an overhyped interview. This time, foreign reporters accompanying US President Joe Biden on his visit to India for the G20 summit were also given the same treatment.
Since taking over as the Prime Minister of India in 2014, Modi has been criticized nationally and internationally for avoiding press conferences. So far, he has not held a single press conference. The only time in the nine years that he took questions from the press was during the joint press conference with Biden during his state visit in June, which put him in a bad light.
Biden headed into a confidential meeting with Modi on September 8, soon after arriving in India. As Biden and Modi met at the prime minister’s residence, the US press outfits were confiscated in a van, out of the eyesight of the two leaders—an unusual situation for the reporters and photographers who follow the U.S. president at home and around the world to witness and record his public appearances.
The Joe Biden administration repeatedly requested increased media access for the bilateral meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit on Friday, but the Government of India rejected those requests, according to the White House’s tweet.
The press pool spray refers to the access of a pool of reporters to the two leaders at the venue right before the meeting with cameras and microphones. The purpose of the pool spray is to grant the leaders publicity with opening remarks and also grant the media the opportunity to ask questions. The leaders are at liberty to take questions of their choice since it is an informal press interaction and not a formal press conference. Such press pool sprays frequently happen at the White House’s Oval Office, where the President of the United States often hosts foreign leaders. But in India, this opportunity was denied. Biden will not address the press in Delhi but will hold a press conference in Vietnam, where he will go after Delhi.
Besides the meeting with Modi, Biden is not expected to have any other bilateral meetings. The White House has said that there could be informal interactions with leaders on the margins or pull-aside kinds of conversations, but the schedule is not expected to allow for a proper bilateral sit-down.