The Report Card that wasn’t: How the Modi govt embarassed itself

The PIB surprised everyone by posting a release highlighting the negatives of Modi government’s first three years in power. It later turned out that the text had been lifted from a news website



PTI Photo by Shahbaz Khan
PTI Photo by Shahbaz Khan
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Sam Jawed

The headline stunned everyone who read it, “Modi stuns opposition! On third anniversary, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government cites its negatives in report card.” This was big. The Narendra Modi Government is not particularly known for acknowledging its negatives.

The Financial Express story went on to say, “As Narendra Modi government completes three years at the Centre today, it was expected that the BJP-led regime would indulge in grand display of its successes and successes only. The opposition leaders were also expecting the same from the government. But it seems, the opposition would have to be disappointed for now as the Modi government has itself outlined all its most talked about failures and negatives in the last three years. In a report card of the three years of Modi government released by the President’s Secretariat, the government has taken self-criticism to a new level by pointing out the failures as well.”

From social media trolling to cow vigilantes, from farmer suicides to moral hazard due to loan waiver in Uttar Pradesh (UP), from increasing number of railway accidents to criticism of foreign policy, the list of negatives had it all.

Common sense tells you that if something sounds too good to be true, it is probably not true.

Many Twitter users started pointing out that the “Report Card” is in fact an article from Livemint. It turned out that Press Information Bureau (PIB) had “inadvertently” uploaded the Mint article as an official press release by the President’s Secretariat and The Financial Express had reproduced it. The Financial Express removed the story from its website and posted a clarification. The PIB press release, now deleted, can be viewed here.

The Report Card that wasn’t: How the Modi govt embarassed itself
A screenshot of the deleted PIB release
The Report Card that wasn’t: How the Modi govt embarassed itself
A screenshot from the deleted PIB release on the Modi government’s foreign policy
The Report Card that wasn’t: How the Modi govt embarassed itself
A screenshot from the deleted PIB release on the state of the farmers under the Modi goverment
The Report Card that wasn’t: How the Modi govt embarassed itself
A screenshot from the deleted PIB release on “mindset change” under the Modi goverment

PIB had not issued any retraction or clarification till the time of writing this article. Meanwhile the “report card” itself has travelled far. It is available on India Defence Forum and also picked up by Pakistan Defence forum and scores of other sites.

The reaction of Modi supporters to The Financial Express article was rather hilarious. On one hand, there was a long list of negatives, and on the other the opportunity to stun the opposition. They seemed to have accepted all the criticisms listed out because the government said so. It did not seem to matter to them that for three years they were fighting tooth and nail to defend the government on these very points because the opposition was raising them.

Here is a small sample of some of the tweets hailing this “historic” move:

“Tony Thomas: #respect Mark of true leadership! India Govt cites its negatives as well in 3 year report.” (sic)

“Dr Kanishka Rawat: 1st time Govt mentioned it’s negatives too in their report card. That’s actually Accountability👏 #3yearsofModiGovt.” (sic)

“Abhinav Sharma: Now this is called appraisal. The #3yearsofModiGovt puts a report card that highlights negatives too. #disruptive.” (sic)

“Eternal Optimist: In the history of Indian politics no govt has had d guts to callout areas of improvement #3YearsofModiGovt #MyPMModi.” (sic)

“Anand Thakur: Only Pradhan Sevak can have guts to do this 👉 Modi stuns Opposition! On third anniversary, NDA government cites…” (sic)

Oblivious of the faux pas by PIB, many are still sharing the articles where the text of the now deleted Financial Express article was reproduced, praising the guts of the government in sharing criticism. It will be interesting to see their reaction when they learn that the government did not display any such guts.

The Financial Express article had started off by saying, “It was expected that the BJP-led regime would indulge in grand display of its successes and successes only.”

Apart from a short-lived moment where everyone was “stunned” due to an “inadvertent” error by PIB, the Modi government did not let us down in this regard. The third anniversary celebrations of the Modi government are nothing but a grand display of chest-thumping. PIB’s own Twitter account is a testimony of the same.

Originally Published on altnews.in

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Published: 28 May 2017, 7:07 PM