New Delhi: Among current politicians, if there’s anyone who is known for his oratory, it has to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, critics have found fault with PM Modi’s skills as well; the reason being the liberties the PM takes with historical facts. Like poets who tweak sentence construction or words as per their will, our PM distorts historical facts. While the common man may not have noticed most of them, the critics haven’t been too kind. Here’s a look at PM Modi’s bloopers of 2018:
In Bihar’s Champaran district, the PM attended the centenary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha (insistence for the truth) movement, launched in that same district against the British empire on the same day in 1917. However, in his speech, the PM ended up referring to Bapu as ‘Mohanlal’ Karamchand Gandhi instead of Mohandas.
Reports show that the PM has made the same mistake at a campaign rally in Rajasthan in 2013 and again while speaking at Madison Square Garden in New York in September 2014.
In Chennai for DefExpo, a military exhibition, the PM called Kancheepuram district, the venue, ‘the land of the Cholas’. He had done it again. The land had been under the Pallava dynasty.
In February this year, during a speech at Parliament, PM Modi blamed Jawaharlal Nehru for the Partition, saying, “All of Kashmir would have been India’s if Patel had been allowed to become the first prime minister.”
The fact of the matter is that during Independence, Muslim League chief Muhammad Ali Jinnah was adamant about the creation of Pakistan. The Hindu Mahasabha supported him. Patel was ready to give Kashmir to Pakistan as long as Hyderabad remained a part of independent India.
Interestingly, Patel, a leader in whose memory the nation got the world’s tallest statue, the Statue of Unity, was never a fan of BJP’s parent organization RSS and called it a “threat to the existence of the Government and the State.” He banned the organization in 1948 and held it responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
PM Modi has also not been sparing of the Italian roots of Congress President Rahul Gandhi. During a rally in Karnataka this year, he said, “For 15 minutes, without taking a paper in your hand, can you (Rahul) talk about the achievements of your government in Karnataka. You can speak in any language as you please- English, Hindi or your mother’s mother tongue.” His dig at Sonia Gandhi’s Italian roots did not go unnoticed. Then Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah snapped back by challenging the PM to “speak about the achievements of BS Yeddyurappa’s government in Karnataka for 15 minutes by looking at a paper.”
Again, in Karnataka, he said, “How did the Congress governments treat Field Marshall Kodandera M Cariappa and General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya? History is proof of that. In 1948, after defeating Pakistan, General Thimayya was insulted by PM (Jawaharlal) Nehru and Defence Minister Krishna Menon.”
The Congress was quick to point out that General Thimayya was the Army chief from 1957 to 1961 and VK Krishna Menon was India’s Defence Minister from 1957 to 1962.
“Congress is misleading people in the name of Mahadayi and is only politicising the issue. During a 2007 Goa Assembly poll campaign speech, then Congress President Sonia Gandhi had assured Goa that Mahadayi river water will not be shared,” he said. Siddaramaiah again slammed PM Modi’s attack, saying he “doesn’t understand the issue” so should “keep quiet”.
In what was probably his most controversial statement during the Karnataka campaign, PM Modi said, “When Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Batukeshwar Dutt, Veer Savarkar were jailed fighting for the country’s Independence, did any Congress leader go to meet them? But the Congress leaders meet the corrupt people who have been jailed.”
While he was probably referring to Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Lalu Prasad Yadav at AIIMS, those in the know say Nehru had visited Bhagat Singh in Lahore jail in August 1929, when several freedom fighters, including Singh, were on a hunger strike in protest of the ill-treatment by prison authorities.
In Parliament, when Congress leader Renuka Chaudhary chuckled during his speech, the PM said he hadn’t heard such a peal of laughter since the days of Ramayana serial. Probably, he was hinting at Shurpanakha but the statement did not go down too well with the Opposition.
Again in Parliament, a portion of PM Modi’s speech, with reference to a Congress parliamentarian, had to be struck off the records, or expunged. After the Government’s candidate Harivansh won the election to the post of deputy chairperson, defeating Cong’s BK Hariprasad, PM Modi said the election was between “two Haris”. He went on to take a swipe at Hariprasad, playing on his initials, which was seen as derogatory and infuriated the Congress.
The PM, always known for his eloquence, could do with a check on his enthusiasm as well. Here’s also wishing him a fact-check before he utters more ‘historical facts’ in 2019.