Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Sunday that the nationwide lockdown that had been in place since March 24 to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus would be extended till May 3.
Modi’s 10 am address to the nation was awaited with bated breath on social media, with memes and quips rolling in from early morning. There was speculation that the lockdown would be extended, which turned out to be right.
However, after having asked by Modi in his previous speeches to bang utensils from their balconies
and light candles, many assumed that he would set yet another task for India. When this didn’t happen, some were disappointed.
Modi spent the first 12 minutes of the speech talking about the steps the government had taken to contain the pandemic, and thank Indians for abiding by the rules of the lockdown.
Comedian Saloni Gaur lauded Modi’s method of building up the suspense before making key announcements and asked anchor of reality television shows to take note. But another Twitter user was perplexed by the prime minister’s extremely slow style of speaking.
One user noted the irony of Modi paying tribute to BR Ambedkar on his 129th birth anniversary, while human rights activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde are due to surrender to the authorities today. They are wanted for allegedly being involved in a plot to instigate caste violence in Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon village in 2018. Both are known for their passionate defence of people from India’s marginalised sections.
Some noted how Modi’s message simply did not need a 30-minute speech.
One user said the address was useful for Modi politically.
Others also saw its utility.
One news channel kept track of how many times Modi joined his palms.
Someone found Modi’s lengthy speech ending with an appeal to download the Aarogya Setu mobile app, which purportedly helps in providing essential health services to users, to be no different from the behaviour of the average YouTuber or Instagram influencer.
Several Twitter users were indignant about Modi failing to make any mention of plans to rejuvenate a falling economy, help the poor, or boost India’s attempts to fight the novel coronavirus.