I’m sorry, but it must be said: “Yeh haath humko de de Thapar!”
Heh heh heh. Oh, come on, it wasn’t that bad. But yes, it wasn’t anywhere near as awesome as what went down on CNN IBN the other day.
For those of you who don’t know, Karan Thapar is a long winded journalist who likes to talk in flowing periods brimming with emotion – while smoothly decapitating you. I have never known whether to be irritated by his blather or admire his balls of steel.
A long while ago, I had the opportunity to see him interview J. Jayalalitha for the BBC’s Hardtalk India (I think) and the phrase “must see TV” was coined just for events of that kind. She came all prepared with a script and then read off it, sticking to her answers irrespective of what he had to ask. Lesser beings might have been cowed by her basilisk glare but Thapar not only called her on her rehearsed answers but refused to back down when she flat out lied to his face that all her answers were spontaneous.
She was so pissed off by the end of it that she refused to shake his hand and said she hated his show.
These days he has a show called Devil’s Advocate on CNN IBN where he puts people through their paces. I guess this is where all the people who want to give the impression that they’re an open book with nerves of steel go to talk. I have a feeling they end up talking a bit more than they want to because he has perfected this technique of posing questions that start in Tokyo and land on the moon after taking the scenic route through a parallel universe.
You know what, I can’t really explain his interviewing technique. You’ll just have to see it for yourself sometime. Just take my word for it that it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
Anyway, so he got Narendra Modi on his show the other night and I’m so incredibly sorry I missed this interview:
Karan Thapar: Mr. Narendra Modi, let’s start by talking about you. In the six years that you have been the CM of Gujarat, the Rajiv Gandhi foundation has declared Gujarat to be the best-administered State. IndiaToday on two separate occasions declared that you are the most efficient Chief Minister. And despite that, people still call you to your face, a mass murderer, and they accuse you of being prejudiced against Muslims? Do you have an image problem?
Narendra Modi: I think it’s not proper to say that there are people. There are two or three persons who talk in this terminology and I always say ‘God bless them.’
KT: You are saying this is the conspiracy of two or three persons only?
NM: I have not said so.
KT: But you are saying it is only two or three people.
NM: This is the information I have. It’s the people’s voice.
KT: I’ll tell you what the problem is. Even five years after the Gujarat killings of 2002, the ghost of Godhra still haunts you. Why have you not done more to allay that ghost?
NM: This I give it to the mediapersons like Karan Thapar. Let them enjoy.
KT: Can I suggest something to you?
NM: I have no problem.
KT: Why can’t you say that you regret the killings that happened? Why can’t you say that may be the government should have done more to protect Muslims?
NM: What I had to say I have said at that time, and you can find out my statements.
KT: Just say it again.
NM: Not necessary that I have to talk about, in 2007, everything you want to talk about.
KT: But by not saying it again, by not letting people hear the message repeatedly you are allowing an image contrary to the interest of Gujarat to continue. It’s in your hands to change it.
NM: (Modi takes mike off)
I’ll have to rest. I need some water.
KT: Paani (water).
NM: Dosti bani rahe bas (Friendship should be maintained, that’s all). I’ll be happy. You came here. I am happy and thankful to you. I can’t do this interview. It’s ok your things are. Apne ideas hain aap bolte rahiye aap karte rahiye (These are your ideas, you keep talking, keep doing). 3-4 questions I’ve already enjoyed. Nahin please.
I don’t know whether I should be alarmed that a Chief Minister with national ambitions is so utterly wrapped in cotton wool that he sincerely believes only a couple of people think he has blood on his hands or whether I should read something more sinister into what went down.
Modi is, after all, the man whose trip to the United States had to be abandoned shortly after the Godhra riots thanks to human rights activists of Indian origin who lobbied hard against him. And the issue of the riots is something that I would guess he has to face on a daily basis once he moves past his protective politician barrier.
What protective politician barrier? You know, the one created by sycophants that every politician carries? That one.
But something must have pierced through that wall of smug sometime. This can’t be the first time someone’s asked him the tough questions. Can it?
Thapar himself remains puzzled. I guess he has plenty of time to figure things out – I wouldn’t think he’s on a lot of people’s guest list. No?