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The fizz that finished in 10 minutes, Prime Minister's prime time slot

By Priti Prakash | PUBLISHED: 28, Mar 2019, 16:42 pm IST | UPDATED: 04, Apr 2019, 11:54 am IST

The fizz that finished in 10 minutes, Prime Minister's prime time slot New Delhi: As surprising and nail biting the wait about PM’s abrupt announcement of addressing the nation was, same was about the issue he would talk on, on the morning of March 27. This time would it be the bank or the bunker, was the joke on twitter. The announcement was tweeted by the Prime Minister himself on his twitter handle of chawkidar Narendra Modi. People stood nervously, with fingers crossed at the news that spread like fire. Interestingly on the completion of the telecast a known media personality tweeted, ‘Phewwww! It’s a spacy thingy. Your money’s safe, folks, go back to work.’

Barely 2 weeks before elections PM Modi makes an announcement of India’s capability of destroying satellites in space by ASAT’s Mission Shakti. The announcement followed a Cabinet Committee on Security meeting in the afternoon of 27 March.

It was indeed a great feat and a welcome news that India had successfully achieved the mission and was the fourth country in the elitist list of nations to have acquired this capability. Hats off to DRDO, ISRO and its scientists. The nation salutes them.

The opposition Congress jumped in to claim that it was in 2012 during UPA rule that the blocks of the mission were built and that the scientists of DRDO and ISRO already had the expertise then.

Just a couple of days ago Congress had announced ‘’Nyay’’ Niuntam Aay Yojna, Minimum Basic Income to fight poverty in the country which offers Rs 6000 monthly to 20 % of the poorest families of the country, Rs 72,000 yearly to the poor. Were PM and his team forced to think of a counter narrative at this crucial time when the voter can still be manipulated!

Seriously, the people of the country on the eve of voting a new dispensation have issues that pertain to their daily livelihood. Its about unemployment, its about jobs, about farmers suicides, about women safety, about poverty, cow vigilantism. After Pulwama and Balakot the issue of nationalism is seen no more of immediate concern to the semi urban and rural populace across the country. Will the narrative of nationalism that Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to be pitching in his address to the nation hit the poor, daily wagers, farmers, the landless, labourers, small businessmen etc! Remember that india’s electorate is highly divided and opiniated. Local issues resound more during elections.

With all the leading luminaries of Modi government leaving no stone unturned singing peons about Prime Minister’s outstanding vision and India’s feat some of them were also accompanied with best wishes for the elections. The likes and retweets reached millions in a minute.

Twitter machine set rolling with dissection and thread baring of the announcement, trolling notwithstanding. So was this something very new. Why did Prime Minister choose this day, 2 weeks before election’s first phase, to address the nation, which is not too often by the PM that he is. Some interesting tweets are worth a notice which in a way defines the mood of the nation.

A leading lawyer Prashant Bhushan tweeted, ‘’As we waited with baited breath for Modi’s grand announcement on national TV & RADIO on the eve of elections, Modi chose to announce DRDO& ISRO’s decade old work on an anti satellite weapon as his new ‘surgical strike! Clearly it will now provide 10 cr jobs to our people!’’

Congress leader and legal eagle Abhishek Manu Singhvi tweeted, ‘Wonder how many PMs how many times in last 70 yrs would schedule an address to the nation in midst of elections for space achievements. Hope it does not betray nervousness or desperation re impending results.’

Siddharth Vardhrajan, of The Wire tweeted, ‘All I can say is for all his talks of having been a great prime minister, chawkidar Narendra Modi is looking pretty shaky if he has to lean on the IAF, the army and now DRDO to look for some accomplishments barely weeks before the elections.’’ ‘’Pretty blatent violation of the spirt of model code of conduct, if not the letter. Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt on the timing of the ASAT test, the fact that Modi choose to make this announcement himself gives the game away,’ he says in another tweet.  

Akhilesh Yadav, ‘Today narendra modi got an hour of free TV & divert nation’s attention away from issues on ground-unemployment, rural crisis & women security-by pointing at the sky’’

Shekhar Gupta said, ‘’Fact is India has acknowledged and reported ASAT capabilities for some years now, ISRO-DRDO have done a brilliant job & deserve congats. But this isn’t Pokaran 3. Two weeks before voting, this is odd.’’

Rahul Gandhi tweeted, ‘’Well done DRDO, extremely proud of your work. I would also like to wish the PM a happy World Theatre Day.’’

Rajdeep Sardesai tweeted, ‘Today was one such day when PM could have given the space/def scientist their moment in the sun to make the announcement. Or does election time =TV time!’’

Shashi Tharoor tweeted, ‘’The news that NaMo was to address the nation on TV set off a minor panic amoung those who recalled the last time. Many honest people ran to ATM’s to withdraw money  & dishonest ran to banks to deposit cash. Pity those who, at the months end had 0 to deposit or withdraw.’’

Mamata Banerjee questioned, ‘What was the need for Modi at the time of election to violate the model code of conduct to take credit? Does he work there? Is he going to space?’’’

That’s actually the reality check.

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