When Modi left everyone guessing

Last Updated 27 March 2019, 13:16 IST

It turned out to be an agonising wait for many as they counted the minutes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation to convey an “important message”.

As the speech over television, radio and social media got delayed, speculation mounted across the social and political spectrum in Lucknow, the capital of the politically sensitive state of Uttar Pradesh.

"Yeh kya karney jaa rahen hain? (What's he going to do)," wondered Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who was chatting with media persons at the party headquarters on Wednesday.

Once the cat was out of the bag, pat came his reaction.

"Today @narendramodi got himself an hour of free TV & divert(ed) nation's attention away from issues on ground #Unemployment #RuralCrisis & #WomensSecurity by pointing at the sky," he tweeted.

Close on his heels, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, who is the SP's alliance partner, accused Modi of playing politics over India's anti-satellite missile capability.

"Congratulations to Indian defence scientists for the successful experiment of shooting down a satellite in the space. But the prime minister playing politics under its garb for electoral gains is most condemnable," she said in her tweet in Hindi.

"The honourable election commission should definitely take cognizance of this," Mayawati tweeted.

Congress spokesperson Mukesh Singh Chauhan questioned the timing of the announcement.

Rinku, a tea vendor in the busy Hazratganj commercial zone, said he overheard people discussing something while sipping tea before the announcement.

But he could not make sense of the announcement, he said.

"Certainly, it was not a 'dhamaka' as the note-ban announcement," the 40-year-old said.

This was a reference to the memories of that fateful November 2016 evening, when Modi announced the demonetisation of high-value currency notes, sending people running to the ATMs.

Modi's announcement on Wednesday did not seem to have evoked much excitement on the Lucknow University campus, with many students yet to understand its importance.

There was a buzz around the Lucknow Municipal Corporation office.

"People thought it's again going to be something like the note-ban,” said contractor Manoj Kumar Mishra.

Local lawyer Hemant Upadhya said there was some discussion ahead of the PM's address, but nothing later about the message.

(Published 27 March 2019, 13:06 IST)

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