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'Aap chup ho jaiye': Amit Shah's answer to tough questions from media

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 20 May 2017, 18:07 IST
(Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times/Getty Images)

Bharatiya Janata Party national president Amit Shah's 'Meet the Press' programme in Chandigarh was a textbook demonstration of the Narendra Modi regime's new norm on dealing with the media.

The norm is – hard-sell the 'achievements' of the regime in a long monologue, don't respond to uncomfortable questions, snub the reporters, mock them, and leave.

All this was on display in the 40 minute programme during Shah's one-day visit to the Union Territory, as he donned the garb of the salesman of Modi's achievements on every front.

Amit in wonderland

If one were to believe him, India has got radically transformed into some kind of wonderland since the BJP came to power at the Centre.

“The BJP, that began with just 10 workers, today has 11 crore members, making it the world's biggest political organisation. We have 1,387 MLAs and governments in 13 states, besides being in alliance with the ruling parties in four other states. Our party now covers 58% of the population, covering 50% of the geographical area of the country. We also have around 325 MPs. The recent mandate received in the Assembly polls to five states and the completion of three years of NDA rule is testimony to the fact that Modi is extremely popular,” he said.

Claiming that the people have not only accepted the BJP but are also satisfied with it, Shah underlined that his party has taken major steps to do away with the scourges of dynastic politics, casteism and politics of appeasement.

He then went on to make tall claims on how well the Central government has performed on various fronts. “There has been no charge of corruption since the government came to power at the Centre. India has emerged as the fastest growing economy in the world, and the stock market has approved it. We have been successful in getting various parties on board to make the law of Goods and Services Tax (GST). With 28.7 crore new accounts being opened under the Jan Dhan scheme, every family now has a bank account. With people coming forward to give up their cooking gas subsidies, two crore new gas connections have been provided,” he said.

He then went on to explain how the Central government has provided power to 13,000 villages out of 17,000 that did not have electricity when the Modi government took over, and how it has set a target for power to every household by 2022. He also claimed that the government had brought in political discipline in the country, with regards to cash donations, and how it had been successful in tackling benami properties.

He claimed that demonetisation was a successful measure that demonstrated political will, and claimed that the Modi government is a government of 'the poor, the farmers and the labourers'.

Belittling reporters

Having finished his address, he took the questions only to belittle and snub reporters.

He refused to comment on the National Council of Education Research and Training deciding to refer to the 2002 Gujarat carnage as '2002 Gujarat riots' instead of '2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat riots'. He also had no answer on why the BJP lost in alliance with the Akalis in Punjab if there was a Modi wave across the country. He simply said that the party is introspecting on the causes of the defeat, while the alliance is here to stay, for now.

When asked about dissident MLAs raising their heads against Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, he snubbed the reporter, asking him: “You name the MLAs. There is no dissidence in Haryana. You raise your level.”

Replying to another question on the 'Beti bachao, beti padhao' campaign, whose figures are allegedly being fudged in Haryana, he went after the reporter, saying: “Do you know what is the sex ratio in Haryana? It has gone up.”

When asked about Modi's foreign policy, where Pakistan continues to challenge India regularly, China is adopting aggressive postures and Russia is going a separate way, Shah said: “All these are your perception. The foreign policy is very good.”

Similarly, on being asked about the EVM hacking charges being levelled by the Aam Aadmi Party leadership against the BJP, his reply was: “Did they win 67 of the 70 seats in Delhi through EVMs? Do you get my point or not?”

On the deteriorating situation in Kashmir, where the BJP is a partner in the ruling alliance, Shah said that such situations have arisen in the past also since 1989, and were taken care of by the security agencies. He expressed confidence that the situation will be brought under control this time also. He also claimed that the Kashmir problem is the making of the Congress.

His replies to other queries were often marked by comments like 'aap chup ho jaiye' (you keep quiet), 'hum sab kar lenge' (we'll do everything), which left the journalists agitated.

“This kind of reaction to queries does not go well with the president of a national party,” said a young journalist, while one of the apologetic organisers could be heard saying, “What can we do? This is his style.”

Defacing public property

Earlier, there were reports of BJP workers defacing public property with posters and flags of the BJP. The party is in power in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation.

People also pointed out how Shah's roadshow was marked by two-wheeler riders going without helmets, whereas Chandigarh is known countrywide for its strong implementation of the law on wearing adequate protective headgear – both by the driver as well as the pillion rider.

First published: 20 May 2017, 18:07 IST