‘BBC Documentary Has Helped Modi Consolidate His Following’

Ashutosh Kumar Pandey, an avid follower of BBC services, wonders if the documentary drama was scripted by Team Narendra Modi itself! His analysis:

My association as a BBC follower goes back to my childhood, when I would listen to their radio service with my grandfather. Traditional news followers of BBC Radio like me were deeply disappointed when the service was taken down in 2011. I would regularly wrote letters to BBC and in one year when I was in Ninth Standard, 48 of my letters found mention in a total of 52 episodes aired.

That is why I became curious when I heard that BBC will stream a two-part documentary on Narendra Modi. I found the streaming link on the Internet and started watching it with much expectations. Midway, it was blacked out but I managed to watch both the episodes with a little effort.

My first reaction was: What’s new about it? Every bit of information presented in the documentary was in public domain for a long time. There were far better and more damning documentaries available on various OTT platforms. Why this mishmash of old wine in a new bottle! People have high regard for BBC content in India; they take it as the final word. Thus, the documentary was an anticlimax, a disappointment.

Then a new controversy erupted. I found why the documentary had blacked out in the middle; the Government had ordered it to be taken off air. Soon, Modi supporters started calling it a deliberate attempt by western media to launch malign Modi and therefore, also, India. They called it a misinformation campaign against the ‘Visvaguru’ image of India. They even demanded a complete ban on all BBC services in India, even filed a petition in the Supreme Court.

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Therein lies one of the biggest ironies. These same followers had lionized Modi for his action, or the lack of it, in 2002 Gujarat riots. However, they were aghast to see the same being aired on a foreign news channel. Why? The answer is that the Bhakt mandali cherishes Modi’s image as a majoritarian Hindu nationalist domestically, but wants India to be represented on global platforms by peace-loving Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi. This paradox only exposes their guilt.

Practically speaking, the documentary has helped Modi consolidate his following domestically. His fan base, I witnessed it in my circle, has succeeded in conveying the message that ‘foreign hand’ is working against Narendra Modi to stall the growth and rising status of India.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly gave two contradictory statements on the subject. He defended the independence of BBC but also spoke about UK’s diplomatic closeness with India. British PM Rishi Sunak too defended PM Modi in the UK Parliament by expressing his disagreement over Modi’s characterisation in the film. The UK government’s stand over the BBC documentary only shows how undemocratic governments stand in support of one another.

That brings me to the question: was this documentary drama scripted by Team Narendra Modi itself? BBC could have made a documentary on price rise, unemployment, etc to bring disrepute to the government. There are many issues were the Modi regime could be pushed on the back-foot. Raking up a 20-year-old incident without any context is something that I could not understand.

 As told to Abhishek Srivastava

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