A 20-year-old video featuring India’s future prime minister and one of the most recognisable faces in TV journalism has recently surfaced on social media. This was before the time NDTV joined the 24*7 news cycle, when it was just a few years old and was drawing praise for their crisp election coverage.
On the day of voting for the Eleventh Lok Sabha elections in 1996, the channel’s young reporter had caught up with Bharatiya Janata Party’s All-India General Secretary to seek his opinion on the party’s performance. Barkha Dutt, with her hair pulled back into a ponytail, looked like a different person altogether but the sharp style of questioning is the same.
Narendra Modi on his part wasn’t looking any different except for his hair still retaining a shade of black. Dutt, in fact, introduced Modi to NDTV viewers as the de facto chief minister of Gujarat (citing the Vaghela group) and a staunch Keshubhai Patel (former CM) loyalist.
During the 3-minute video, Modi deftly tackled a wide range of subjects, including infighting within the party and, also, managed to take a sly dig at the Congress. Modi, despite playing the part of a general secretary, spoke like a man who was destined for a larger role in the Gujarat politics. He has written off the Congress even before the exit polls were out, and blamed them for the low voter turnout as they ‘failed to put on a show’. The entire conversation between Modi and Dutt showed the making of one of India’s most admired politician and a strong tactician. True to Modi’s prediction that the wind did blow in BJP’s favour, the party won 16 of the overall 26 seats in Gujarat. The rest as they say is history.
How do you think this conversation would have panned out if this interview were to happen now?