Wednesday wasn't a good day for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At least, not on Twitter.
#PoMoneModi was one of the top trends on Twitter all day. The phrase "Po Mone" is a popular movie reference that literally means "Son, you're dismissed, better head home".
Perhaps, Modi realised it wasn't the best way to try to attract voters. On Sunday, he had addressed a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rally in Kasargod, when he compared God's Own Country to Somalia.
This is what Modi had said in his rally speech:
“Yahan Kerala ki janjaati, janta, ST Scheduled Tribe, usmey jo child death ratio hai, Somalia se bhi sthiti khatarnaak hai… Abhi kuchh din pehle… media mein dardnaak chitra dekhney ko mila…Jo Communist party ka qila maana jaata hai, jahaan voh hamesha jeet-ti hai, us Peravoor mein Scheduled Tribe ke baalak koode ke dher mein bhojan talaash kar rahe hain, yeh media mein prakaashit hua hai,” Modi said.
(“The situation with the child death ratio among Scheduled Tribes in Kerala is scarier than even Somalia. Recently, one came across a tragic picture in the media. In Peravoor, which is seen as a stronghold of the Communist party, where it has always won, there, Scheduled Tribe children were seen foraging for food in a garbage dump… it has appeared in the media.”)
The report was about four children, who lived in a tribal colony about 500 m from the garbage ground run by the village panchayat. "At a time when crores of rupees are spent on Adivasi welfare, Adivasi children forage for food at the waste dumping yard at Kunithala in Peravoor," said the Mathrubhumi report.
The caption for the picture read: "Two children, aged eight and 10, climb over the walls of the yard and scavenge for food among the piles of waste and salvage food from the waste from hotels, bakeries and other places and eat the stale food, rotten vegetables and fruits."
The journalist who had reported the story for Mathrubhumi said that the photographs forced the government to order a probe.
The comparison to Somalia has created a political row, with various parties asking him to withdraw his remark.
Chief Minister Oomen Chandy has written a strongly-worded letter asking him to have some political decency while making such remarks. “The PM reacted without verifying the veracity of reports that tribal children consumed waste at Peravoor. After conducting an enquiry, the Director of the department concerned had submitted a report stating the information is wrong,” he said.
In his letter to Modi, Chandy mentioned the photograph that Modi was referring to:
"As per the report of the Director of Scheduled Tribe Development Department submitted to the government on 18-11-2015, these children studying in the 5th and 6th standards at Vekkalam U.P. School are facing complaints of skipping classes and trespassing farmlands and residential properties. They rarely go to school. Every day, these children after having food would leave their homes at their convenience. They are in the habit of jumping the walls of the waste treatment plant and pick the scrap, which they sell to buy food of their liking from hotels."
"I can assure you that no child in Kerala takes stale food," he added.
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