Rama Krishna Sangem
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unique Radio talk show “Mann Ki Baat” ‘s 100th episode will be aired on April 30, Sunday morning. Public broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) airs this and Doordarshan and some other YouTube channels too telecast, though this is a voice based programme for 30 minutes. Started off as a small experiment with by then ignored AIR, Modi’s Mann Ki Baat (can we call it MKB?) became a cult of its kind.
To mark MKB’s 100th episode, a Rs 100 special commemorative coin will be released on April 30, Sunday. On April 26, a national conclave on Mann Ki Baat@100 was held at Vignan Bhavan in New Delhi where around 100 celebrities and key persons including Bollywood starts Aamir Khan and Raveen Tandon joined the fan club of MKB. “This how Modi leading the nation by communication,” said Aamir Khan, a leading film star.
“You (Modi) tell your people what you’re looking at, how you’re seeing the future, how you want your support in that. This is an important communication that happens in Mann Ki Baat,” said Aamir Khan. When asked about Modi only talks about what he wishes to talk, not a two-way communication, Aamir replied:”I think, it is his prerogative because he’s doing it (MKB)”.
“It is his method of hearing what the people have to say connecting with people across the country, I think it is very important initiative,” said Aamir Khan. Union Home Minister Amit Shah showered praise on Modi for not continuing his talk show for the last 9 years. “I know how it difficult it is for those in politics and public life to regularly run a monthly programme,” said Shah at the conclave.
This show started in October 2014 and became very popular on AIR and Doordarshan and other platforms where it is available. Soon, public started to listen Modi who speaks in pure Hindi. As Amit Shah said, this single programme has revived the sagging image of AIR or Akashavani. Even US President Barack Obama too joined it in 2015 when he came to India.
Political weapon too
Though Modi never spoke politics on MKB, he carefully crafted his political image – as a caring mass leader who is only interested in minute details of people of the country. Modi not talking politics too is a style of politics. This MKB has become Modi’s secret political weapon, not understood by his political opponents. Once, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, talking a media gathering in Hyderabad in 2018, ridiculed MKB. Rahul couldn’t gauge its full impact.
As AIR covers 95 per cent of geographical area of India and over 90 per cent of people, including those who live in border and hilly areas, an listing radio is effortless, compared to other media – TV or digital -, MKB penetrated easily into public. Modi (or his team?) used to do some research, unearthing unsung heroes -both men and women – and narrate their stories in MKB.
Modi, even before podcasts became very popular, found MKB as an effective communication tool, between him and people. He talked about environment, Covid, fear of students on public examinations, and what not? He made sure that his monologue is not boring, by mentioning names of individuals who inspired his in the preceding month. This is a clever way of connecting with masses.
He is a winner on this platform – see his 88.2 million followers on Twitter, 74.7 million on Insta, 48 million on Facebook and 14.5 million followers on YouTube. We may differ with his politics, but we cannot ignore his popularity through Mann Ki Baat. Last word: He will use it through the next one year, till 2024 general elections, to beat his opponents in politics, of course, without talking politics!