Why Rahul Gandhi tried to overshadow PM Modi’s maiden press conference

Lok Sabha Election 2019: This is not the first time when Rahul Gandhi has tried to imitate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s style to outsmart him.

Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Press Conference, BJP, Congress,
Rahul Gandhi held a simultaneous press conference when PM Modi was holding his maiden press conference.
Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Press Conference, BJP, Congress,
Rahul Gandhi held a simultaneous press conference when PM Modi was holding his maiden press conference.

BJP versus Congress: In an highly unusual political development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi conducted simultaneous press conferences at their party headquarters in New Delhi. It was one last opportunity for both the leaders before the silent period kicked in on Friday evening ahead of the final phase of polling on May 19. As an act of defiance, Rahul Gandhi decided to meet journalists while the Prime Minister was to address his maiden press conference.

It appears that Rahul Gandhi has taken the cue from Modi, who delivered a speech on August 15, 2013 when he was the chief minister of Gujarat immediately after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delivered his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

Independence Day speech is Prime Minister’s address to the nation, an occasion to outline both his vision and achievement. And chief ministers celebrate independence day by hoisting the national flag and inspecting the guard of honor in the states. Some chief minsters like Akhilesh Yadav have delivered brief speeches on independence day in past but confined themselves to the state issues. Chief Ministers usually do not deliver a counter speech on the lines of speech delivered by Narendra Modi in August 2013 when he challenged then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a debate.

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Not only Modi delivered a speech on the independence day in August 2013, but it was also publicised as his vision for the country, a counter narrative to the vision of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This single act made it clear that he had thrown his hat in the ring for next year’s general election as the main challenger to Manmohan Singh.

Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, tit for tat, press conferences,
Narendra Modi had delivered a counter speech to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Independence Day Speech in 2013. (Photo Courtesy: CNN News 18).

This act of delivering a counter speech to the Prime Minister’s independence day speech was perceived by many as an act of defiance aimed at undermining the authority of Prime Minister.

By conducting a simultaneous press conference to undermine the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden press conference, Rahul Gandhi has tried to convey the message that the election is between Modi and him.  And it’s not Modi versus the rest (all the opposition leaders) as the Prime Minister has sought to portray.

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This is not the first occasion when Rahul Gandhi had tried to replicate the Prime Minister’s actions to outsmart him. In August 2018, it was speculated that Rahul Gandhi might deliver a counter speech to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech as Modi had done in 2013. However, it did not happen.

But Rahul Gandhi did not miss the opportunity to hold a simultaneous press conference when Prime Minister Modi was about to address his maiden press conference and later mocked him for not answering any questions. Immediately after the press conference, in a tweet, Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at the Prime Minister for not answering questions in the much publicised event.

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