It was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first formal outreach to the media after assuming office and it broke the ice when he met journalists, shook hands with them and smiled for selfies on Saturday.
This happened after Modi was being blamed for keeping the media at arm’s length.
Though journalists had to come an hour in advance for the much-awaited meet, or “Diwali Milan” as it was called by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), no one complained.
A relaxed Modi arrived around noon, wearing a light pink kurta and a pink jacket.
The stage, decorated with flowers, had a huge party poster with the images of a smiling prime minister and BJP president Amit Shah.
Modi was flanked by Shah and Home Minister Rajnath Singh on either side on the stage.
While Shah addressed the media, as is part of the custom that party president speaks, Modi was seen chatting with Rajnath Singh and smiling.
Shah chose to talk about the recent victories of his party in the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana.
The prime minister however kept politics at bay, and chose to break the ice recounting how once upon a time he was the one to make seating arrangements for the media.
Modi was referring to his days in the BJP national headquarters before he was made the chief minister of Gujarat.
The prime minister added that he had close relations with the media at that time, an experience which helped him in his later years.
This was followed by thanking the press for spreading awareness on his pet Clean India Campaign.
Also present on the dias were Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and party leader J.P. Nadda.
Modi then went to every single table, shook hands with journalists, posed for photos and patiently let people click selfies as well, smiling all the time.
A special canopy in saffron and green hues was erected for the interaction at 9, Ashoka Road, adjacent to BJP’s national headquarters where Modi spent nearly six years when he was the party’s national secretary and general secretary.
With heavy security at all the entrances, journalists had to clear four security checks before they could enter the meeting venue.
Also present were Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, General Secretary (Organisation) Ramlal, some other ministers and party spokespersons.
However, none of the BJP veterans were to be seen.
The interaction came a day before the prime minister’s dinner with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies at his 7, Race Course Road residence.