requirement in national interest.” This should be the headline of a much-needed advertisement in national newspapers put out by none other than the Prime Minister’s Office. Narendra Modi requires quality researchers and fact checkers who can steer him clear of any faux pas in the future.
Greeting Afghan president months before his birthday
This is not the first time that Modi has had to face public embarrassment owing to incorrect knowledge. There’s a long history to it which earned Modi a bad reputation as early as the 2014 general election campaign trail.
Referred to Mahatma Gandhi as Mohanlal Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is regarded as the “Father of the Nation”. His birthday, that is October 2 is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti and it happens to be one among the three national holidays. Gandhiji’s photographs adorn Indian currency. Indians are introduced to the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi in school. In fact, many children know of him even before they go to school.
Modi claims to have secured a postgraduate degree in political science. Therefore, his knowledge of the Indian independence movement in general and Mahatma Gandhi in particular should certainly be above average. But while addressing a rally in Rajasthan in November 2013, Modi referred to Mahatma Gandhi as Mohanlal Gandhi.
That certainly was one of the most humiliating blunders committed by the prime minister till date and probably the easiest one to avoid.
Called for bringing back Syama Prasad Mukherjee’s ashes
Some would argue that Syama Prasad Mukherjee is to the BJP what Jawaharlal Nehru is to the Congress. The Bengali leader founded Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1951 which would later on evolve into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Mukherjee died in 1953 in Jammu and Kashmir shortly after launching a protest against the special status granted to the state.
The death occurred while Mukherjee was in custody and his death remains controversial, but Modi had an altogether different tale to tell. “When the country got freedom in 1947, the first thing Nehru should have done is to send a representative and get back the ashes of Syama Prasad Mukherjeewho had fought his whole life for the country. He did not do it. This was not done till 2003. He died in 1930 and for 73 years – 50 years after independence – the ashes were waiting to be brought here. Mr PM, your party never took up this matter. Efforts were made to suppress history,” said Modi during the inauguration of a hospital at Balasinor in Gujarat.
However, Modi soon realised his mistake and apologised for mixing up between Syama Prasad Mukherjee and Shyamji Krishna Verma.
I-Day speech from Lal Darwaza
We’ve all grown up listening to the incumbent prime minister’s speech from Red Fort or Lal Quila in Delhi on Independence Day. But Modi took the traditional I-Day speech from Lal Quila to Lal Darwaza which is a monument constructed by Sher Shah Suri near Delhi Gate.
“The central government had issued an advisory to media about the prime minister’s August 15 speech from Lal Darwaza. The advisory was so that the media does not compare the PM’s speech with that of Modi, who is just a chief minister of a state,” said Modi in Bangalore.
Such blunders were very common as Modi travelled across India in the run-up to the 2014 general election. Earlier Modi was also criticised for stating wrong facts concerning emperor Alexander and the ancient city of Taxila.
Addressed Bhutan as Nepal
The slip-ups which Modi committed weren’t a result of campaign fatigue since they were far from over when he became prime minister. During his first foreign visit to Bhutan in June 2014, Modi incorrectly referred to Bhutan as Nepal. He said so while speaking of the Bhutanese royal family at the joint session of the Bhutanese parliament.
In September 2014, Modi’s constant mixing of English and Hindi led him into uttering or rather inventing the word “sixty nine-thve” as he addressed the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Starts walking during national anthem
During a recent trip to Russia in December last year, Modi started moving during the guard of honour as the national anthem “Jana Gana Mana” started to play. Modi was quickly alerted by an official and made to stand in attention as is the norm while the national anthem is sung or played.
What followed next were Twitter jokes and Opposition barbs which could have certainly been avoided had Modi been a little more attentive. Every Indian is familiar with the tune of the national anthem and Modi is no exception. Either he was nervous or he just wasn’t listening while inspecting the guard of honour and mistook a gesture from an official as an indication to start walking.
Mistakes must stop
Modi has committed mistakes which even children wouldn’t commit while writing a grade 1 exam of general knowledge. Everybody knows the full name of Gandhi. Everyone is aware about the I-Day speech which is delivered from Red Fort and the fact that we’re supposed to stand in attention when the national anthem is being played.
Modi cannot afford to repeatedly let the nation down. Blunders while campaigning in domestic elections can still be tolerated but the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy cannot make a fool of himself during diplomatic visits or while addressing the United Nations or the parliament of another nation. Modi must do himself and the nation a favour. He must get his facts right.