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Howdy, Modi! Baffled Shashi Tharoor

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

Howdy, Modi! – the ecstatic Texas rally – has become such a big hit that the Congress bigwigs got hiccups. Shashi Tharoor was too quick to counter, to either save his sinking party image or to get applause from his high command, tweeted along with a photo: “Nehru & Indira Gandhi in the US in 1954. Look at the hugely enthusiastic spontaneous turnout of the American public, without any PR campaign, NRI crowd management or hyped-up media publicity”. Later, he was countered with the backup of fact-check machinery and by the other eminences in the media that the photo was taken in Magnitogorsk in June 1955 or so.

In his clarification to the above sensational exercise, he once again tweeted: “I am told this picture (forwarded to me) probably is from a visit to the USSR not to the US”. To make an analysis: The picture was “forwarded”, not his own. That means, he didn’t make the search or effort to get that kind of material to counter. Some poor party worker did it for him, in order to give credit to Tharoor, thinking it was true. Tharoor on his part and also in his haste to put the prime minister Modi down, didn’t cross verify the image or its date and place.

The continuation of his second tweet, indicates he and his party’s hubris. It says, “Even if it is so, (with change of place from USA to USSR), it still doesn’t alter the message: the fact is that the former PMs also enjoyed popularity abroad.” This statement of his tweet is an absolute fallacy. We had seen Manmohan Singh who never cared to meet pravasi Bharat (NRI community) nor his predecessor Congress prime ministers. They had never such vision or outlook to knit the Indian community or touch their chord. The crowd in Howdy, Modi! is quintessentially Indian.

The first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, probably for his Communist ideals, was respected in the USSR. The family of Nehrus, being born with a silver spoon in the mouth, being westernized to the core and having studied the West all along, is known to many people across the countries. The crowd that cheered Nehru and Gandhi was Russian, as the family was known to them all, in the bygone era, for their socialist views and power politics.

Tharoor ended his second (corrected version) tweet on a sober note: “When @naredramodi is honoured, @ PMOIndia is honoured; respect is for India.” Does this erase his first tweet goof up? No. For, he says in his first tweet the spectacular crowd at Howdy, Modi! was: (i) a PR campaign (ii) the crowd management (iii) the hyped-up media publicity. Whereas for Nehru and Indira Gandhi, in his falsely implicated American rally, to be “spontaneous turnout without any PR campaign.” What an image worship! What a Bhakt of Congress! This bhakti is, after all, after much chiding and reprimanding by the Congress high command on several occasions.

For Tharoor to know, any public event nowadays needs some amount of PR. The picture posted by Tharoor (father and daughter) seemed to be a roadshow than an organized meeting. Whereas prime minister Narendra Modi’s Howdy, Modi! was a public meet. It required logistical support of arranging amenities for the attending public. It needed campaigning as the world’s biggest leaders of democracies Narendra Modi and Donald Trump were meeting Indian diaspora in America for the first time on one stage. Without the knowledge of the event, how does the public know/understand? The other day, a couple of years ago, when Ivanka Trump came to Hyderabad, there was a big PR exercise by the state government. Her name itself, should have drawn crowds!

Coming to PR (Public Relations) exercises, marketing strategies, propaganda campaigns etc., the West is the pioneer. Having served so long in the United Nations, Shri Tharoor must be knowing that Eastern standards of simplicity, self-effacement, patience in dealing with things cannot be applied. In the western world: drive, impatience, entrepreneurship are the qualities eulogised. So, they are paid in their own way. Whatever, the PM did, is for the country.

On the whole, Howdy, Modi! was a huge success with no calamitous rain as forecasted or any untoward incident. Sophistication of Nehru family may appeal to the elite of the Congress but commoners appreciate the prime minister, coming from humble background, to this height of sharing one-on-one dais/podium with the world’s great tall leader, president Donald Trump. This indicates the soaring popularity of Modi. It cannot be broad brushed by Shashi Tharoor so easily.

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer
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