The emperor has no clothes: PM Modi in social media memes

After seven years in office, PM Narendra Modi finds himself the butt of many jokes and at the receiving end of some pity

The emperor has no clothes: PM Modi in social media memes

AJ Prabal

As he completes seven years in office on May 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have been a planning a major PR event and an advertising blitz. Instead, the event is likely to remain low key. The mishandling of the pandemic has dented his popularity and the BJP is busy accusing the opposition of tarnishing his image.

But arguably, he himself is responsible for the sorry mess. Even his prompt aerial survey of cyclone hit areas of Gujarat this week and an equally prompt central grant of Rs 1000 Crore to Gujarat evoked howls of protest from other states. Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chauhan was quick to ask why among all the four cyclone-hit states, the PM decided to survey only Gujarat Others were quick to point out how the Centre had delayed giving grants to flood-hit Kerala and Karnataka earlier. Is he Prime Minister of only Gujarat?

The emperor has no clothes: PM Modi in social media memes

US Data Intelligence company Morning Consult, which has been tracking the popularity of a dozen global leaders, this week revealed that Modi’s rating dropped 22 points in April to 63%, his lowest since August, 2019. This was supported by the Indian polling agency CVOTER which found that only 37% of the respondents were ‘very much satisfied’ with Modi’s performance in April-May this year. The figure was apparently 65% a year ago.

An indication of his declining popularity can be found in the large number of cartoons and memes circulating on social media. In 2014 a report in the Hindustan Times had marvelled that no joke was to be found on the Internet about Narendra Modi. Seven years later, the situation has undergone a dramatic transformation with cartoons mercilessly lampooning the Prime Minister.

The emperor has no clothes: PM Modi in social media memes

All Prime Ministers were targeted by cartoonists. But the cartoons targeting Modi seem to contain less of humour and more suppressed fury. Video clips and memes mocking that only one man could save India from the pandemic have gone viral. Most of them name Modi and deadpan that only his resignation would save India. The hashtag ‘PrimeMonster’ trended on Twitter this week even as opposition leaders for months have been mocking him as ‘Sarva Gyani’ or omniscient. Modi has not helped his defenders by choosing to speak on every subject under the Sun and claiming in January that India under his leadership had saved humanity from the coronavirus pandemic.

The emperor has no clothes: PM Modi in social media memes

The unkindest cut in a way has been the Gujarati poem which does not name him or anyone else; but in less than 48 hours after poet Parul Khakkar posted it on her facebook page, it had been translated into various Indian languages and English. A vicious online campaign forced the poet to lock her page, after she was trolled for being anti-national, anti-Hindu and anti-Gujarat. But the poem, written in anguish at the holy river Ganges embracing dead bodies, makes the point that the emperor is naked. And no name was necessary for readers to identify who it pointed at.

BJP and Modi supporters have been shocked because few Gujarati writers or poets have been as scathing in denouncing a regime that promises to rule in the name of lord Ram.

Can he do a mid-course correction is the question that will haunt the completion of seven years in office by him.

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