Prime Minister’s PR coup in Ladakh turns into a PR disaster on Twitter

The hashtag #MunnabhaiMBBS trended on Twitter on Saturday with questions being raised on what looked like a conference room converted into a hospital ward for the PM’s visit

Prime Minister’s PR coup in Ladakh turns into a PR disaster on Twitter

NH Web Desk

The Prime Minister’s visit to a ‘hospital ward’ in Leh on Friday generated mirth on Twitter as photographs surfaced of the PM addressing the injured jawans in the ward. The comments in lighter vein flooded Twitter with the hashtag #MunnaBhaiMBBS and trended on Saturday morning.

The military hospital at Leh has been in existence since before 1962 and has over 300 beds under a Brigadier. But possibly because the PM wished to visit jawans injured in the clash with PLA troops in the Galwan Valley on June 15, a conference room was converted into a makeshift ward. Sources in the Indian Army indicated that the PM’s security protocol could also have played a role in what looked suspiciously like a contrived photo-op.

A projector and a screen, the wood panelled hall with wooden flooring and the conspicuous absence of any medical equipment or accessory like the I.V. stand, medicine cabinet, a dustbin, oxygen cylinder or for that matter even doctors and nurses, strengthened the suspicion. And Twitterati had a field day.

The Prime Minister’s penchant for publicity and photo-ops had already provoked a newspaper headline hinting at the PMO treating the visit as a PR opportunity.

Others commented on the photograph circulated of the visit.

· I don't wanna sound like a "conspiracy theorist". But this looks more like the inside of the Officers' Mess/ Club. I've been to a few. The panelling on the wall, the window blinds, just don't say "hospital"!! Folks?

Polished clean hospital without doctors & nurse, no medical equipment, projector, well dressed and straight postured patients... read a Twitter comment while another tweet said, “To paraphrase a certain 'journalist' - Not in living memory have I ever seen a hospital ward filled with patients that had a projector & screen at the end. Not in living memory have I seen a ward with zero medical equipment available at any angle.

Some of the comments were more uncharitable than the others.

· Some renegade officers were caught & cashiered for using ketchup to fake battles in order to claim medals. Now Modi adopts the same technique?

· A Good Photographer always chooses a good set/studio to take photographs, here a conference room is converted into a hospital to take memorable photographs; however Munnabhai forgot to arrange dustbin, Drip and oxygen stand to give a perfect look to fool his parents.(2020)

· This photo opp is fascinating. Not one Indian soldier seems to have external injuries needing any bandages...they are all able to sit straight up (no internal injuries?), the pristine hospital ward with beds that look un-slept medical equipment. What is going on here?

· Has anyone ever seen a patients ward with a projector, a screen & a head table? A ward which doesn't have a single medical equipment? It's amply clear, to facilitate PM's photoshoot, an Army Conference Hall was converted into a ward with armymen posing like injured patients.

· The army should put its foot down and tell Modi it will not be a part of his marketing gimmicks. This is the limit, turning a conference room into a ward for Photo op

Others rose in defence and posted pictures of the Army Chief visiting jawans in the same conference room last month.

But it failed to appease many, who wondered if the PMO had asked for it.

· Did the PM's Office ask for a hospital ward to be staged... with soldiers being made to fake injury... so our PM can get a feel good photo op?

Veterans also joined in the debate and seemed critical of the Munnabhai culture infecting a great organization like the army.

Army sources, contacted for response, were amused but not surprised. “ When a VVIP visit takes place, it is not uncommon to present a sanitised picture,” said an officer. Explaining the posture of the injured jawans, who sat straight in ‘Kamalasana’, he added that 18 days after the scuffle at Galwan, chances were that the jawans had recovered. The injuries moreover would be because they fell down on the rocks or into the freezing river. “They wouldn’t require oxygen or intravenous drip after 18 days,” he added.

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