Does it at all matter if Rahul spilt ‘coconut juice’ or Modi mocked him for that or Rahul did a near perfect imitation of Modi, ‘mitron’ and all?
GN Bureau | March 2, 2017
The latest buzz on social media is about whether or not Rahul Gandhi, while campaigning in Manipur, said he would be happy to see ‘coconut juice’ from the state being sold in London with a label that says ‘Made in Manipur’. Turns out that he did not actually say that. What he said was he’d like to see the day when someone in London drank pineapple juice with a ‘Made in Manipur’ label on it.
But over-the-top mockery is the hallmark of the campaign style of prime minister Narendra Modi. So it wasn’t surprising when, at a rally in Uttar Pradesh, he mocked Rahul, implying that he had spoken to the people of Manipur about ‘coconut juice’. Of course, this is the kind of material that gets tweeted and forwarded, and some in the mainstream media were wasting their energy in fact-checking such piffle. The justification, perhaps, was that it was a prime minister speaking, after all, so the people need to know if what he said was true or not – never mind that mockery (like poetry, one might say) often relies on exaggeration, even lies, for effect. Then Rahul and his Congress colleague Randeep Sujrewala responded to this mockery, and that gets reported too. The cycle continues.
There’s another recent video online, of Rahul doing an imitation of Modi during the Uttar Pradesh campaign. He speaks about the troubles heaped upon people by demonetisation, but uses Modi's trademark gestures and ‘mitron’, which was till recently Modi's favourite way of addressing audiences – ended no doubt by the many ‘mitron’ jokes on social media.
Trouble is electioneering has become a social media circus, every flippant remark magnified out of context by the power of forwards. What’s worrisome is, do serious issues matter at all?
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