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Political or Apolitical? – PM sounds paradoxical on Mann Ki Baat’s motif

On the 50th edition of monthly radio broadcast Mann Ki Baat on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attesting the show of not being political and not about praising the government or Modi, sounded paradoxical to a large part of the 130 crore population. While the Prime Minister claimed the show to be about the aspirations and success stories of the fellow citizens, most parts of most of its editions have also encompassed the success stories of government policies and welfare schemes.

“Modi will come and go, but this country will remain united, and our culture will remain. The small, inspiring stories of 130 crore people will remain. When ‘Mann Ki Baat’ commenced, I had firmly decided that it would carry nothing political, or any praise for the government, nor Modi for that matter anywhere,” the PM stated. Stressing on the purpose behind the programme, he also said that inspiring stories have the power to connect people from villages to the metros. “Most people think that the biggest contribution of Mann Ki Baat is that it has increased sentiment of positivity in society,” he added further.

Political experts have a different view on the issue. They noted, on one hand, when the ruling party and the PM took the opportunity of ‘incomparable radio connectivity’ to reach the largest section of the audience and quite successfully used the show as a marketing tool to promote their governance, calling Mann Ki Baat ‘apolitical’ sounds ‘sardonic’.

BJP MLA Atul Save asserted, “Of course it’s a political radio show. Nobody is saying it is not. In “Mann Ki Baat”, we are explaining whatever good things the government has done in the last four and a half years. Whenever any government is doing any good work, it should definitely be conveyed to the people.”

The very first episode of Mann Ki Baat was broadcasted on October 2014. Its 50 episodes so far have covered several social and national issues as well as international implications. Education of girl child, protection of girl child, tackling exam stress, drug menace, the skewed sex ratio in Haryana, the importance of yoga, climate change, celebratory wishes, and significances found a place in PM’s address. Besides that, government initiates and schemes too were given coequal placement on the show — be it Swachh Bharat, Make In India, GST, demonetisation, welfare schemes for the farmers, youth, and poor of the country — PM Modi was always all in praises about all the Modi government initiatives.

Ahead of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) completing a year on July 1, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on an episode acknowledged the contribution of the states for showcasing ‘cooperative federalism’ in its implementation. He also termed the new tax regime as ‘victory of integrity’ and ‘celebration of honesty’ which ended inspector raj in the country. World’s tallest Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Statue of Unity, the importance of whose huge cost of construction hit the headlines, too was a part of the radio show. The PM appealed to the citizens to participate in the “Run for Unity” on the day of inauguration. One of his address also stressed how his ‘government extensively exercising on agricultural reforms across the country in order to ensure that the farmers get a fair price for their crop’.

Many listeners have often criticised the PM for going wrong with his facts. Boasting about the decision of demonetisation, one that many economist have marked as the most under-prepared and wrong-timely call ever, the Prime Minister was also heard addressing the youth of the country to take a pledge of making the country a cashless society that would curb rampant black money and corruption. Even to take people’s feedback on his government’s programmes and policies, the PM launched Jann Ki Baat. If in all these editions of the Mann Ki Baat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had boldly balanced the show with national and political interest, what made him take a U-turn all of a sudden?

Calling PM Modi a dictator, Ravi Raja, Congress Corporator and leader of Opposition in the BMC said, “At present, whenever PM Modi is trying to promote his policies through his public addresses, people are not accepting it because none of the policies has been successful. Thus, he is using his own radio show to boast about the government policies.”

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