People also laughed at the photographs in which the Prime Minister appeared to look away from the deity and the cameras. “The cameras target some while others target the camera” was one of the jokes. The Prime Minister posed in front of a station clock with the dial indicating that it was 1 am: proof that he works 18 hours a day as he has repeatedly stated. Someone commented: “Although the Prime Minister’s supporters are happy, my complaint is that no one is thanking the cameraman,” who could also have logged in for 18 hours a day.
Much appreciated was the Prime Minister having his photo taken with construction workers, pouring flower petals on them and then sitting down with them for a meal. The supporters thought it was a nice gesture. The non-charitable pointed out the vial specially kept for the PM and its tray placed correctly while the trays placed in front of the workers had been placed on the wrong side. More tellingly, none of the workers seemed to have turned their trays over, so frozen with fear they looked.
The event management received the highest score from the observers. Only the usual detractors criticize the embezzlement of taxpayers’ money. “Those who continue to taunt JNU students for wasting taxpayer money do not find this vulgar display obscene,” an angry housewife asked Lucknow, on condition of anonymity.
Others have questioned the fact that the government is spending public money on the construction of airports, highways and temples as residents of Uttar Pradesh, as elsewhere, grapple with the inflation, unemployment and hunger; when, by the government’s own admission, it was forced to cut allocations for MGNREGA, scholarships and social assistance schemes. That the Prime Minister used the “official” event as a political platform no longer surprised people. But doubts have been cast as to whether the religion card would be as effective in Uttar Pradesh in 2022 and that was during the last parliamentary elections in 2017.
The fact that the BJP is forced to work overtime to ensure crowds attend PM meetings in the state is cited as indicative of public anger. Uniformed schoolchildren and MGNREGA workers, it was alleged, were mobilized for the Prime Minister’s rallies in Uttar Pradesh and even then the chairs were unoccupied and people ran out as he spoke.