How easy will it be for Modi to win vote of confidence in Lok Sabha?

A photo shared by Rashtrapati Bhavan showing President Murmu feeding dahi-cheeni to Narendra Modi has stoked doubt and controversy

Photo courtesy: @rashtrapatibhvn/X
Photo courtesy: @rashtrapatibhvn/X

AJ Prabal

How auspicious will be the dahi-cheeni (curd and sugar) fed by President Droupadi Murmu with her own hands to Narendra Modi, elected leader of the NDA parliamentary party in Delhi on Friday?

Traditionally offered to children before exams to wish them well, will the symbolic ‘omen’ help Modi win the vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha? Nobody quite knows at this point, however, when Parliament is being convened and how much time has been given to the PM-appointee to prove his majority in the House. Several political analysts continue to insist that ‘picture abhi baaki hai’, that the newly elected leader will have a tough time winning the confidence vote.

The official handle of the Rashtrapati was unambiguous. She had exercised her powers under the Constitution to appoint Narendra Modi the prime minister, it stated. However, Modi claimed he had been appointed ‘prime minister-designate’. Addressing the media outside Rashtrapati Bhavan, he struggled to pronounce the word ‘designate’, triggering a host of memes on social media.  

Rashtrapati Bhavan, however, posted the following: “The President requested Shri Narendra Modi to: i) advise her about the names of other persons to be appointed members of the Union Council of Ministers; and ii) indicate the date and time of the swearing-in-ceremony to be held at Rashtrapati Bhavan”, it stated. On Saturday, Rashtrapati Bhavan informed that the oath of office and secrecy would be administered at 7.15 pm on Sunday, 9 June.

The ‘sweet’ image of the President feeding the prime minister sparked a mild flutter on social media, with people asking if it was really part of protocol. People quickly shared similar photographs of past presidents, Pranab Mukherjee and Ram Nath Kovind, also feeding sweets to Mr Modi; though it was not clear if the occasions were his electoral victories in 2014 and 2019.

Some users felt it was inappropriate, especially since the BJP on its own has failed to secure a majority, and that sweets could have been offered once the PM had secured the vote of confidence.

Some found it problematic because instead of being a ‘private gesture’ of goodwill, it was photographed and shared officially by the President. She could have fed Modi kheer, sweets, dahi or whatever she liked, but did she have to make a public spectacle of her blessings?

Former diplomat and ambassador K.C. Singh, who has served in Rashtrapati Bhavan and written a book on his experience, frowned on the image. “Apropos my days with President Zail Singh, precisely why I wrote my book The Indian President. Holders of that office must uphold its dignity & not behave publicly like a Bhakt. Can you imagine Rajendra Prasad & Nehru doing this. Or S Radhakrishnan with Shastri & Indira Gandhi…,” he posted on X.

“The President could have fed the PM dahi cheeni or whatever privately, after removing the cameras. It’s a nice thing to do, but when it’s out for public consumption it could send out a wrong signal. This is not appropriate,” agreed a user.

Some users felt Modi could have received the offering like a prasad in his hand rather than have the President feed him like a child. An acerbic comment read, “Many reasons can lead to child-like behaviour in seniors, but all the reasons stem from confusion, loss of control, or depression. Confusion could be from deteriorating mental health or loss of memory. Loss of control can include loss of health, cognition, and movement loss,” suggesting that Modi needed to retire gracefully.

Analysts who believe that Modi might find it rough going in the Lok Sabha even after he is sworn in as PM, suggest that a revolt by a section within the BJP cannot be ruled out. There is resentment because many of them, especially from Maharashtra, blame the prime minister for their electoral defeat or for marginalising them.

There is anger, too, against Amit Shah and the manner in which he used Central agencies to harass Opposition leaders to force them to switch sides. Above all, the RSS itself may not be averse to a change of guard, they contend, and point to an article published in (its mouthpiece) Organiser last year, which had presciently stated that the BJP could no longer win elections based on ‘Modi magic and Hindutva.

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Published: 08 Jun 2024, 7:42 PM