56 years later, the last TV interview of India’s first prime minister offers a stark and sobering contrast to the first press “appearance” of the 14th PM

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After 1,817 days—in his final week in office at the end of his five year term—prime minister Narendra Modi presented himself in a press conference at the BJP headquarters in Delhi—and took no questions.

This extraordinary and advertised disdain for the freedom of the press to question a prime minister—freely and openly, without a script or a teleprompter—barely seems to excite or anger vast sections of a pliant media.

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Dr Malini Parthsarathy, the former editor of The Hindu, tweeted:

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Barring The Telegraph whose lead story goes without a headline, and the report with body copy, and to a lesser extent Rajasthan Patrika and Mumbai Mirror, across the country, most newspapers feature Modi’s press “appearance” with the due deference they have shown him for the better part of the last five years.

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Thankfully, some South Indian language newspapers show that they are not mere megaphones for poll pitches.

The Kannada daily Praja Vani mentions Modi not taking questions in its headline. The Telugu dailies Eenadu and Sakshi place Modi’s press “appearance” deep inside the paper because of its vacuity.

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The Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika calls the PM ‘Nirob Modi’. Nirob is mute in Bengali.

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In contrast to Narendra Modi’s fear of independent media, his inability to speak without a teleprompter, his fumbling in extempore situations is the last interview of the first prime minister of India, the much reviled Jawaharlal Nehru

Also read: How prime ministers before Modi dealt with the media

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