New Delhi, March 2: Narendra Modi may have basked in the cheers and clapping at the BJP national council but he cried off his second public appearance in the national capital at a conference of printers and publishers today.
Modi was invited as the chief guest at a convention called “Romancing Print”. His presence was billed big on the conference’s website as a leader of not only Gujarat but the country with a “remarkable ability” of “transforming dreams into reality”.
But the decision was opposed by a small but highly influential group of printers and publishers who declared they were dropping out of the conference in protest. Led by Indu Chandrasekhar, the founder of Tullika Books, the protesters questioned the choice of Modi as the chief guest because the Gujarat chief minister has no proven interest in printing and publishing other than using the media to prop himself up.
Last night, a Modi aide told The Telegraph — that broke the story of his date with “Romancing Print” on February 24 — he would not go to the event. “There was no serious invite from the organisers. Before that, there was this talk of protests,” said the aide, denying that Modi’s decision to abstain had to do with the dissent.
Asked why Modi opted out, Jacob George of PressIdeas Publishing and an organiser, said this afternoon: “The conference is on and may be he might still show up.” But a source close to Modi confirmed he was not going. “He is totally preoccupied with the BJP council,” he said.
George later switched off his phones.
Indu said: “I think a proper invite was extended to Modi because the organisers defended their invite. They announced him as the chief guest in their printed and e-invites, along with his photo and a eulogistic that called him ‘honourable’ and ‘enigmatic’. Modi saw the protests and he does not want to risk a controversy when he’s here for something bigger. The organisers have lost both ways, in losing out on Modi and losing the goodwill and trust of their colleagues.”
Naresh Khanna, a Delhi printer and publisher, among the early dropouts, said: “This is a victory (for us).”