Critics accuse Modi of using Indian taxpayers’ money for his promotion in the run-up to the 2024 parliamentary elections.
Ashraf Shaghil | Clarion India
WHILE the mainstream media in India disregarded the critics who accusd Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using the G-20 event as a platform for his election campaign, the foreign media coverage supported the concerns raised by them more explicitly.
On the very first day of the event – being held in the national capital – several leading international media outlets in their coverage highlighted the extensive display of posters and billboards featuring Modi’s photo to emphasise “his influence among the world leaders” and to resonate the same domestically.
Critics accuse Modi of using Indian taxpayers’ money for his promotion in the run-up to the 2024 parliamentary elections. Mani Shankar Aiyar, quoting an unidentified former finance secretary, stated the estimated cost of advertising to be over Rs 1,000 crore. Aiyar on Friday wrote: “Modi’s notion of being the world’s guru is just as ridiculous as his twisted history of ‘centuries of enslavement’, which has been used to attack India’s religious minorities.”
The international media reported that the summit is important for Modi, and a strong show will help the party to showcase the PM’s charisma domestically. Ahead of the event, the Associated Press critically examined the preparations and the narrative being built around PM Modi. It wrote: “Major roads in New Delhi are teeming with giant posters and billboards announcing India’s presidency of this week’s summit of the Group of 20 nations. And one leader’s picture — smiling benignly from every traffic circle — stands out from the rest: Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The outlet further underlined: “It is an unabashed homage to the populist prime minister and staunch Hindu nationalist.”
A CNBC correspondent reporting from New Delhi highlighted that the G-20 event has been overshadowed by PM Modi. He said: “The streets of Delhi are filled with Modi’s posters, with critics accusing him of using it as an early campaign platform for upcoming elections in India.”
The headline in Bloomberg read: “Modi turns G-20 summit into not-so-subtle India election kickoff”. The agency underlined that a poll suggesting that PM Modi will extend a decade in power during the next vote.
The CNN in a debate pointed out that PM Modi “wants the world” to think about him. The news organisation’s leading anchor Christiane Amanpour commented: “Indian PM Modi “would like us to think of him… as a voice for the global south… But if you look at his actions, they don’t actually match the rhetoric,” argues@ghoshworld. “I think Modi’s own expectations from… the G20 are fairly limited, much to do with… publicity.”
In an extensive piece, The New York Times observed PM Modi’s motive to exploit the event for political gains. The paper called Modi “a master political marketer”. The paper wrote: The G20 has arrived just as India is asserting itself as a rising geopolitical and economic force, courted by an array of global powers and offering itself up as a leader and model for developing nations. Mr Modi has seized on the G20 presidency as confirmation and celebration of India’s ascent — a rise to which he has fused his own image — as he seeks a third term in an election early next year.”
In April this year, the Foreign Policy ran an extensive piece writing concluding that “PM Modi “turned India’s G-20 leadership into a nonstop advertisement for its growing clout”.
Critics are not surprised by the international media coverage, as the strategy to politically exploit the event had already been made in the BJP headquarters last year. According to The Indian Express the “euphoria generated around the G20 Summit will occupy a major part in the BJP’s campaign in the coming Assembly elections in five states, in many of which the BJP is facing a tough contest against the Congress.”