Modi’s flash of wit
There is little that can discomfit Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is believed, and he provided us further evidence on Thursday soon after social media buzzed with a picture of his attempt to watch the morning’s solar eclipse. It was a picture he himself had tweeted, and it turned into meme fodder rightaway. This was thanks mostly to Delhi’s vision-fogging smog, though the eclipse itself attracted a few online wise-cracks. When one of Modi’s Twitter followers brought the meme value of the picture to his notice, he tweeted, “Most welcome … enjoy”.
Since then, the Indian Twitterati has been marvelling at the Prime Minister’s sense of humour. Modi is known best for the sway he commands over live audiences, especially at large campaign rallies. It does not take a market survey to acknowledge that on social media, video clips of his speeches are among the most watched. Random people in the thrall of their handsets as Modi speaks are a common sight in the country. Many have even seen the Prime Minister wield his charm from closer quarters. Cheerful flashes of wit on Twitter, though, are relatively rare.
All political cultures have an idiom, one that includes irony and dramatic irony, poetic turns, and laughter-getting jibes. India’s own culture has had its high and low moments, with politics turning bitter. In that context, it is a good sign to see that the country retains an atmosphere of cordiality in which everything said or implied doesn’t have to be dead serious.