Oh, how the Gandhis have fallen. Just five months after the resounding rejection of the Nehru-Gandhi clan’s Congress party in national elections, the family–which has led the country for most of its independent history–has all but disappeared from the front pages of India’s newspapers…
A news search of the thousands of newspapers and websites in the Factiva database shows how sharply media interest in the Gandhi family has fallen and turned to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Factiva is a service of Dow Jones & Co., which publishes The Wall Street Journal. A quick tally of all the news stories that mention all three Congress party royals – Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi – shows that Mr. Modi was mentioned in ten times as many articles in September.
“They have really fallen off the map,” said political analyst and columnist Ashok Malik. “It is a reflection of complete confusion and defeatism in the party.” Any party would be licking its wounds after such a punishing election defeat. The 2014 polls were Congress’s worst-ever showing. The party didn’t even win enough seats to be given the right to lead the opposition. While it’s always difficult to upstage a Prime Minister, Mr. Modi has proven particularly adept at managing the media. Unlike his predecessor Manmohan Singh, he is not shy about broadcasting his confidence and charisma through big speeches, events and photo opportunities.
While Prime Minister Modi complains the press hasn’t given him a proper honeymoon period, the story count suggests he is still a media darling. He has been mentioned in no fewer than 55,000 stories in the last three months. That’s more stories than former Prime Minister Singh appeared in during all of 2013. Mr. Singh “didn’t go to Madison Square Garden, he didn’t stand next to Hugh Jackman, he didn’t give the media as many hooks (as Modi) but he made news,” on international trips, said Mr. Malik. “Communicating images and words is not just an add-on to Government it is integral to governing and Modi realised that a long time ago.”