01/02/2019 1:32 PM IST | Updated 01/02/2019 1:38 PM IST

The Budget Just Proved BJP Ministers Are Obsessed With 'Uri'

Piyush Goyal mentioned the movie thrice during his budget speech, and he's not alone in his fascination for the Vicky Kaushal film.

Screenshot from YouTube

An hour into his interim budget 2019 speech, Piyush Goyal had mentioned the film Uri: The Surgical Strike twice. 

In what seemed like another instance of a BJP minister promoting the recent hit, based on the 2016 ‘surgical strikes’ carried out by the Narendra Modi government, Goyal said, “Mere ko toh Uri picture dekhne ka swabhagya mila, jo mazaa aya, jo josh tha (I had the opportunity to watch Uri, It was so much fun. There was so much ‘josh’).”

Then for the second time, while speaking of the entertainment industry, Goyal mentioned the Vicky Kaushal-starrer for the second time, “After watching Uri, entertainment should be made more available for cinema goers.”

While wrapping up his speech, he couldn’t resist sneaking in another mention.

Yeh jo desh badal raha hai, desh wasiyon ke josh se badal raha hai.”

Goyal is not alone in his fascination for the jingoistic movie. Other BJP ministers, including the Prime Minister, have tried to work in mentions of the movie at both appropriate and inappropriate times. 

“How’s the josh” — the catchphrase of the film — was used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a Mumbai event amid roaring applause and replies of “High, sir!” from people from the entertainment industry. 

This was followed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman watching the film with army veterans and tweeting praise. 

Sitharaman didn’t just stop here. She also raised slogans of ‘how’s the josh’ and ‘jai hind’ in the movie theatre after watching the film. 

Minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju shared a video of himself test-driving a snow-mobile during an official visit with the same phrase. Earlier this week, Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar had also used the catchphrase while addressing a public event

On Thursday, after Business Standard published a story based on an NSSO report that the government was reluctant to publish—it showed that unemployment in 2017-18 was at a 45-year high—Congress president Rahul Gandhi rephrased the slogan to ‘Hows the jobs?’. It was the top trend on Twitter for a significant part of the day.

While it is not uncommon for politicians to express praise for certain movies—Arvind Kejriwal, for instance, was a regular movie-watcher and would often tweet praise for films including Drishyam and Udta Punjab—the current BJP government’s obsession with highlighting so-called “patriotic movies” made by private parties raises serious questions about cultural patronage and favouritism.

Uri released on the same day as another movie the BJP was delighted to prop upThe Accidental Prime Minister, which our reviewer called “a hurriedly and unskilfully put together low-budget stage production with actors who wear cakey make-up and look like extras from a film set”.

While Uri celebrated the Modi government’s questionable claims of conducting surgical strikes along the LoC, The Accidental Prime Minister was a cheap shot at some real problems about the Congress.

After facing some real electoral setbacks and facing questions about its handling of the economy, the BJP government now seems to be piggybacking on propaganda movies to keep morale high among its troops.