New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video message to the nation Friday morning, urging people to turn off their lights for nine minutes at 9 pm on 5 April and light a candle or a diya or even use the flashlight to mark the country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic drew myriad responses, as usual.
While BJP leaders, Union ministers and some celebrities hailed this move and reiterated the PM’s message on their own Twitter handles, many who have opposed the government, including senior Congress leaders, criticised Modi for not speaking about key issues regarding the Covid-19 battle, nor addressing the exodus of migrants during the lockdown.
‘Light diya of reason, not superstition’
Senior Congress leader Kabil Sibal said the PM’s video message told people nothing about the government’s steps to containing the coronavirus, protect medical practitioners, provide testing kits, deliver food and supplies to the poor, or anything about migrant labourers’ financial situation.
“Light the Diya of reason. Not that of superstition,” advised Sibal, the senior advocate and former Union minister.
Learnt nothing about government’s steps to
1) contain the virus
2) protect our medical practitioners
3) provide testing kits
4) reach food and supplies to the poor
5) finance migrant labour , the jobless
Light the ‘ Diya ‘ of reason
Not that of superstition !
— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) April 3, 2020
Former Union finance minister P. Chidambaram said he was willing to light diyas on 5 April, but wanted Modi to listen to the counsel of epidemiologists and economists. Chidambaram further stated that he expected more clarity on steps taken by the government towards livelihood packages to the poor as well as steps to arrest the economic slide.
We will listen to you and light diyas on April 5. But, in return, please listen to us and to the wise counsel of epidemiologists and economists.
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) April 3, 2020
“Symbolism is important, but serious thought to ideas and measures is equally important,” was Chidambaram’s advice to both Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
However, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha, while acknowledging that the PM had not covered many issues regarding Covid-19, also said “to criticise him (Modi) for trying to cheer people up is being petty and puerile”.
There is a lot that PM Modi needs to explain to India which he did not; migrant crisis, economic collapse, supply chain breakdowns and the status on flattening the curve. That is understandable.
But to criticise him for trying to cheer people up is being petty and puerile.
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) April 3, 2020
‘Pradhan Showman’ and the ‘tubelight’
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor called Modi the “Pradhan Showman”, and said he heard nothing about how to ease people’s pain, burdens, financial anxieties or the vision for the future.
“Just a feel-good moment curated by India’s Photo-Op PrimeMinister,” exclaimed Tharoor.
Listened to the Pradhan Showman. Nothing about how to ease people’s pain, their burdens, their financial anxieties. No vision of the future or sharing the issues he is weighing in deciding about the post-lockdown. Just a feel-good moment curated by India’s Photo-Op PrimeMinister!
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) April 3, 2020
This did not go down well with BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, who responded by saying that the Congress should remain in darkness and not light a candle in solidarity with India. He also told the party to turn off its ‘tubelight’.
If You all from @INCIndia don’t want to light a candle to stand in solidarity with India ..if that’s too much of a pain for you Congress people ..so be it ..stay in darkness..but at least don’t forget to put off that “TUBELIGHT”!! https://t.co/RytAF1WmSq
— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) April 3, 2020
Poems and songs
Lyricist and ad guru Prasoon Joshi wrote an ode to igniting hope, supported Modi’s call to fight the darkness of the Covid-19 disease. He went on to even post videos of himself reciting the poem.
— Prasoon Joshi (@prasoonjoshi_) April 3, 2020
५ एप्रिल रात ९ बजे प्रधानमंत्री जी ने हमसे साथ आ कर एक संकल्प उठाने का आवाहन किया है,अपने अंदर एक ज्योति जगा कर और आत्मशक्ति को जागृत कर हम हर अंधकार को मिटा सकते हैं।#IndiaFightsCorona @narendramodi pic.twitter.com/CTB8bNU1hh
— Prasoon Joshi (@prasoonjoshi_) April 3, 2020
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal quoted Sanskrit scripture to reiterate Modi’s words requesting people to fight darkness and light diyas.
हमारे यहां कहा गया है:
न अस्ति उत्साह परम् बलम्।
स उत्साहस्य लोकेषु,
न किंचित् अपि दुर्लभम्॥
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) April 3, 2020
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan said because of the PM’s message, people of the country have been filled with a new energy. And by lighting diyas and candles, there will be a feeling of positivity in people’s minds.
आज प्रधानमंत्री श्री @narendramodi ने अपने संदेश के माध्यम से देश की जनता को नई ऊर्जा से भर दिया है।#COVID19 रूपी संकट पर प्रकाश के तेज को फैलाना अत्यंत आवश्यक है,इससे जनता और इस संकट से तत्परतापूर्वक लड़ रहे #CoronaWarriors के मन में सकारात्मकता का भाव आएगा! #IndiaFightsCorona https://t.co/WE84R8SaPi
— Shivraj Singh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) April 3, 2020
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta paid “homage to this morning and our PM”, posting K.L. Saigal’s 1943 classic song ‘Diya jalao’. Mehta has often been critical of the Modi government.
Homage to this morning and our PM.
— Hansal Mehta (@mehtahansal) April 3, 2020
Actor Taapsee Pannu, also a liberal voice on social media, seemed excited at the prospect of a new task to do amid the nationwide lockdown.
New task is here ! Yay yay yayy !!!
— taapsee pannu (@taapsee) April 3, 2020