Most of India ignores Narendra Modi's critics, stands in solidarity with prime minister in show of unity on Sunday

At 9.10 pm on Sunday a section of India's population, cynical of the Narendra Modi's call to turn off lights across the nation for nine minutes, found themselves at odds as towns and villages lit lamps and torches in a show of solidarity with the prime minister. Even those who predicted a power grid failure too were proved wrong.

Crores of Indians who had been holed in the confines of their houses since 24 March due to national lockdown (some from much earlier due to closure of schools and colleges and work from home situation) responded to Modi’s appeal at 9 pm on Sunday and switched off lights of their respective houses and dutifully lit candles, diyas, torch, the flashlights of their mobile phones to lift the pall of gloom and boost the morale of Corona warriors.

However, despite high crowd participation, the Modi critics criticised the chanting of slogans, the ringing of bells, conch shells and bursting of firecrackers at some places.

After switching off lights at his Lok Kalyan Marg residence, Modi came out in the lawns wearing a white Mundu/lungi, a blue short-sleeve kurta and cotton gamcha (from Assam) to light the diya. The symbolism of it couldn’t be lost. His dress, the casualness of it not just connecting, north, south and North East but with ordinary households where a family elder at home would generally dress like that.

In a fortnight this is the second time when the nation wholeheartedly came out in support of Modi’s call – taali and thaali beats and now lights — to signify that in these testing times India stands as one nation.

In the last 20 days on four occasions, he directly communicated with his citizens, with two addresses to the nation, one Mann Ki Baat and one 11-minute recorded video message. He is video conferencing with chief ministers, industry captains, civil society, sports stars, government officials among others.

Modi is trying to unleash 'power of collective’ in these testing times. In his video message on Friday, Modi talked about the underlined significance of the power of collective of 130-crore people strong nation. In the last 15 days, he successfully showed oneness of this vast country because people responded as one collective.

India has at least so far been able to contain the crisis. Modi deserves some credit on that count, particularly when developed European nations and the US have been struggling to handle the crisis effectively. That was because the early measures he took including a nationwide lockdown and putting this on priority over everything else when heads of Western nations were lacking in realising the gravity of the situation, putting their acts together and also hesitant to take tough measures.

His message to G20 leaders and SAARC nations was noteworthy and appreciated by all concerned.

India began building quarantine centres, notably by the ITBP and Indian Army, even before the first coronavirus case was reported in the country. He brought thousands of Indians stranded in affected nations across the world without distinguishing their state, religion and creed. The migrant issue was addressed swiftly.

When his political rivals and critics were trying to hammer him for an economic package, he brought Rs 1.70 lakh crore for the poor and underprivileged. That was something which forced even bitter Congress rivals like P Chidambaram to appreciate Modi. Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi too was forced to welcome the move. That was followed by a series of announcements for relief of business and middle class.

The problem for Modi critics lay somewhere else -- the crisis has yet again underlined Modi’s strength as a strong leader and has strengthened his direct connect and enhanced appeal with the masses. That is something very difficult for the Modi baiters to digest.

Updated Date: Apr 06, 2020 15:48:56 IST



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