It was evident that Rahul Gandhi’s first television interview didn’t go too well for him, or for his party. Describing the 80-minute-long interview, The New York Times said “Mr. Gandhi fumbled, stared with a blank expression and a tilted head and looked wounded at times.”
What struck me most, through the interview, was the extent to which Gandhi wanted to avoid mentioning the leader of the principal opposition party, Narendra Modi. Through the interview on Times Now, the channel’s Managing Editor Arnab Goswami mentioned the name “Modi” 28 times, while Gandhi, despite his best efforts, was forced to mention the name only three times. He chose to refer to Modi as BJP’s “prime ministerial candidate” on other occasions.
Right at the outset, it was clear that Gandhi was going to focus on four areas: changing the system (which began trending on twitter half-way through the broadcast), women’s issues, the Right to Information Act (RTI), and involving youth in governance; all valid areas to talk in the party’s present predicament, but certainly not meaty enough topics to be repeated as often as he chose to. He seemed to address issues with a certain sincerity and honesty, which is why he struggled to defend the actions of his predecessors.
Since his performance has been analysed threadbare by both mainstream and social media, being a progressive, I have taken the liberty of playing Mr. Gandhi’s interview coach. And since we can all expect him to be doing a few more of these in the next few months before elections, with the help of a few experienced journalists, here’s a list of some questions that he could have answered better and suggestions for what would have been the best, or better, answers.
Arnab: Why has it taken so long?
Rahul: I have done a little media interaction, prior to this. I have done press conferences and spoken to the media. But mainly bulk of my focus has been on internal party work and that’s where I have been concentrating, that is where most of my energy was going.
The idea was right, but again, the extra words are only making the anchor more comfortable.
Better Answer: I’ve preferred to focus my energy on internal party work.
Arnab: Or is that you have been reluctant to communicate more on one to one basis?
Rahul: Not at all, I have had many many press conferences that you have seen. I don’t have that issue.
“I don’t have that issue” is asserting a negative; why acknowledge any statement as a negative at all?
Better Answer: It is a question of prioritising, interacting with media can be a full time job and I didn’t want to get distracted with that — plus we have several eloquent stalwarts in the party who are experienced spokespeople.
Rahul says announcing a PM prior to an election continued…
In a frontal attack on the BJP, Gandhi said the BJP made only tall claims but delivered little after coming to power.