“Almost in a similar manner as Bharat Pathik Narendranath(read, Swami Vivekananda) had set out for his pan-Indian Journey a century ago, the modern-age Narendranath (read Gujrat-supremo Narendra Modi) seems to follow the same path.”
One of the leading Bengali dailies, the Anandbazaar Patrika welcomed the Gujarat chief minister to West Bengal recently by comparing him with Swami Vivekananda. Modi’s arrival with a big photograph of him at the sirport was the main front page story. Other dailies did not give his arrival the same display with Ananda Bazaar remaining the noticeable exception.
In contrast El Samay, the latest vernacular venture of the Time of India group, published just a small report on Page 14 maintaining that Narendra Modi’s visit to Kolkata was not particularly significant. The daily quoted state Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee to say as much, adding that the Gujarat chief minister was attending a normal political meeting of the BJP workers. The opposing political parties like the Congress and the Left front were low key in their responses.
But by the second day the tone and mood of the media had changed. All sections of the media followed Anandabazaar in following Narendra Modi. Bartaman, Pratidin, Sakalbela (owned by Sardah Group, now closed), Ekdin, Aajkal went all out to portray Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a messiah of ‘development’ and ‘dynamism’, who is destined to lead India. Some of the headlines read – “Criticizing UPA, Modi praises Mamata all out”, “Modi stands in protest against Centre’s revengeful stand towards Banerjee’s Bengal” and so on. Talking to Media Watch one lone journalist commented, “It was really very sad and unfortunate that there was no protest against Modi during his visit to Kolkata. In the recent past we have seen many such protests against Taslima Nasrin, Salman Rusdie,Shahibag Andolan and so forth. This time only some naxalite student factions stood alone in opposing Modi.”
Modi’s speech at the Kolkata Chambers of Commerece was overshadowed on the front page by the SFI assault on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Finance Minister Amit Mitra at New Delhi. But almost all other pages of the print media were devoted to Narendra Modi’s programs in Kolkata,
Only Ganashakti, the CPM’s mouthpiece was slightly critical of Modi’s praise for Ms Banerjee. Quoting Biman Bose, the Secretary of CPM’s state committee and the leader of opposition Suryakanta Mishra Ganashakti carried a prominent article under the headline – “There has always been a charming relation between Modi and Mamata”.
But the Bengali media did not ask why Mamata Banerjee decided to leave for Delhi on the very day Narendra Modi was visiting her state. Was this to avoide meeting Modi and ensure that her muslim vote bank was not dented?.