Photo Credit: ABP Live
It appears to be a fairly straightforward gaffe. Just after Modi has stepped onto the tarmac, the Russian dignitary welcoming him steps forward and makes a gesture that could easily be interpreted as a suggestion for Modi to start walking. Which is exactly what the prime minister does. In actuality, the Russian gesture appears to have been a cue to the band to begin playing Jana Gana Mana, unbeknownst to Modi. Another official then quickly caught up to the Indian prime minister and told him to return to the spot, while the anthem was playing.
Harmless mistake, as such, and yet one that will cause embarrassment to a prime minister who has cultivated a hyper-patriotic image. Where the same mistake by former prime minister Manmohan Singh would have been seen as further proof that he is not dedicated to the nation, this sort of gaffe adds to the image of Modi being above the nation. Simply put, this is a chance for schadenfreude.
And it isn’t the first time either. Questions were raised about Modi’s decision to gift a signed Indian flag to US President Barack Obama, which was seen as an insult to the flag. Just last month, Modi was also seen meeting with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, where the Indian flag behind them was upside down.
Hence the headline from ABP news, which featured the words “huge embarrassment” in all caps. Despite some murmurs from Modi’s supporters that it was actually the protocol officer’s fault, Twitter wasn’t forgiving either.