Seven men, including one civilian died in a IAF helicopter crash on Wednesday in Kashmir, Pakistan shot down one air force plane and arrested its pilot, and prior to that, air raids apparently killed a ‘large number’ of terrorists in Pakistan. Yet, if you look at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official app, it continues to be a slam book glowing with praise for his achievements with no sign of the crisis facing the country.
When this article was published, precisely at 1:05 pm on 28 February, it had no mention of the crash which killed 6 defence personnel or the arrest of the IAF pilot — incidents which occurred on the morning of 27 February. Not a tribute, not even regular news update about the defence personnel or Abhinandan Varthaman who was arrested by Pakistan military.
On Thursday morning, the top features on the app’s home page were articles on Modi interacting with 1 crore BJP workers through video conferencing, him exhorting youth to be critical of Rajya Sabha MPs and him explaining ‘relevance of communication’ at a youth conference. There were also articles on the launch of the Khelo app, and him taking a Metro in Delhi and pulling a child’s ear in jest, the video of which, the Times Now article claimed, ‘will make your day’.
The home page of the NaMo app usually features articles favourable to the government collected from various news websites. In the run-up to the elections, the content of the app, understandably, is curated to present a picture of a political leader who excelled in governance. Like an accessory to any political campaign, content of the app also takes digs at the Opposition in the form of articles reporting about Modi’s criticism of other parties.
A military escalation commanded by the same man’s government, that led to the arrest of an air force pilot, should have ideally been acknowledged for the sake of decency on the app. However, that seemed to have been of no significance to the editors of the app in comparison to random rhetorical speeches made by the PM in events across the country. One of the headlines posted on the home page, and later compiled into a video of the ‘Top News Stories of 27 February’ quoted the Prime Minister claiming ‘divine power is always there to save us from enemies of humanity’.
The app did acknowledge the Indian air strike on Pakistan that took place on 26 February, however, it found a way to turn it into a Modi glorification exercise. Except one article which quoted the prime minister saying. ‘The country is in safe hands’, here’s what the headlines of the other articles posted on the app looked like:
“Main desh nahi mitne dunga: PM Narendra Modi recites poem praising Indian Air Force as crowd goes gaga.”
Another article titled, “Banda Apna Sahi Hai’: Twitter Thanks Narendra Modi for Surgical Strike 2.0 with BJP’s Rap Song’ had been posted.
On the day the Air Force conducted airstrikes — that is 26 February — the Prime Minister’s app had news about him inaugurating the world’s biggest Bhagvad Gita and awarding, rather ironically, the Gandhi Peace Prize.
The narcissism of the NaMo app would have still been justified if it represented any regular politician ahead of the elections, eager to beat his own drums. However, in a sobering time like this, the Prime Minister’s chest-thumping about his own achievements — as portrayed on the app — seems distasteful and completely out of place. While most politicians use national issues to suit their own narrative, especially before an election, the fact that the PM didn’t even catch his breath before blowing his own trumpet over an action taken at a huge risk to the lives of IAF pilots, shows the priorities of the BJP.