Massive thumbs down to latest Mann Ki baat: Sign of things to come?

The ‘digital strike’ is the youth’s message to the Prime Minister, asking him to address their  concerns urgently

Nearly five lakh dislikes, rising each minute across channels, clicks on ‘thumbs down’  have carpet bombed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 15th Episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat 2.0’ that aired on Sunday August 30. A ‘digital strike’, to use the PM fan clubs terminology, as it were, has sent a strong message, from the youth, to those manning the social media strategy for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Perhaps the social media teams in charge of producing and promoting his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ (MKB) show which he started as an informal audio blog for his fans, have got the biggest jolt this Sunday. Over 4.7 lakh dislikes have been reported from one channel alone. Ironically that is the official Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) channel with over 30 lakh subscribers, this MKB episode had over 15,48,416 views/ listeners.  


Add to this the number of dislikes on the other channels including the PM’s personal channel, the Doordarshan News channel, and others, the total number of ‘thumbs down’ of MKB will continue to rise as the day progresses. This is a warning for the PM’s social media team. It is not known if heads have rolled yet for the writers and researchers of the speech, or if the SEO team will now have to work overtime to undo the embarrassment caused this weekend. For the Bharatiya Janata Party fans, and those especially devoted to the persona of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who are all ears and eyes, whenever he ‘addresses’ the nation,  this especially has bruised some egos. While senior party leaders such as Maneka Gandhi, took to twitter to laud the PM’s Mann Ki Baat mentioning breeds of Indian dogs. 



However, young India seems demands that the PM listen to them, and address their concerns about impending entrance exams being announced even though Covid-19 is far from over, and caseloads reported each day are the highest in India  in no mood to listen to ‘jumlas’.

The comments on his Sunday sermon, where he spoke about promoting indigenous dogs, indigenous toys, festivals in the times of Coronavirus, and lauded the National Education Policy, just announced by the BJP government, indicate that no amount of PR, or oratory skills are now wooing the youth. Thousands of students took to responding to the live stream, and later to the recorded replay that was aired on the PM’s own channel, and also on other channels including the national news channel Doordarshan. The comments showed the rage and disappointment in the youth, many of whom had in fact voted for the PM in the last elections. Here is a tiny (unedited) sampler of what they now had to say to the PM. 

“Destroyed our nation completely …no student should vote BJP …if they remember in 2024,”

सिंहासन खाली करो कि जनता आती है, देश को बर्बाद कर दिया है फेकू ने (leave the throne… ‘pheku’ has destroyed the country)”

“This happens when most uneducated people in government leading us… Such a shame! You are talking about toys and pet dog but didn’t talk about students problem when covid case is arising like a bullet train but wait and watch!”

“One of the most corrupted and fake government which has destroyed the life of youth who are preparing for government jobs”

“When they wanted him to discuss exams, he talked about toys. The guy lives in his own world.”

“When you can’t listen to your country’s student voice and talking about nonsense topics…PLZZ help us…leave corrupt people like ramesh Pokhriyal…otherwise 2024 is near…we will act there”

“He is going to destroy india. Either believe me or wait”

“Jobless, hopeless , Failed government failed ministers , Sitting on home from past 2 years even after qualifying exam and this government is doing nothing but jumlebaji .”

“We dont want mann ki baat , do jann ki baat . Talk about employment , economic recession, covid and what goverment is doing to tackle it.”

“No job , reccession, rising covid cases , uncertainty among youth everything is in downward graph dont understand what the govt is trying to achieve !””

“Pradhan Sevak for all?? Don’t let your ego win sir, see the plight of students.

“Never ever vote BJP !! They didn’t care students !! 25 lakhs life in Danger because of BJP ego !! 2024 coming soon”

“Remembering that day when I was chose to vote for him…literally regretted.

“2 करोड़ नौकरी गई उन पे बात करो।

“The dislikes are a gift for modiji. He is playing with lives of millions of students. SHAME ON U”

Even as the world is alarmed at the rate at which daily Covid-19 cases are rising in the country, and the national capital Delhi crossed 2,000 cases in a single day on Sunday, the PM said, “Broadly speaking in a way, there is a feeling of responsibility amongst citizens. People are getting along with their day to day tasks, while taking care of themselves and others as well. At every event being organised in the country, the kind of patience anda simplicity being witnessed this time is unprecedented. Even Ganeshotsav is being celebrated online at certain places.”

He also said farming in the times of Corona was doing well, as “sowing of kharif crops has increased by 7 percent compared to last year. The sowing of paddy has increased by approximately 10 percent, pulses close to 5 percent, coarse cereals almost 3 percent, oilseeds around 13 percent and cotton nearly 3 percent. For this I extend felicitations to the farmers of our country…I salute their perseverance.” 

Of course the now viral focus on toys ignited when he said, “I, together with the Children University of Gandhinagar, a unique experiment in the world, Indian government’s Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises, pondered and deliberated over, what we can do for our children. We discussed how to make new toys available to the children of India, how India could become a big hub of toy production.” 

He even invoked Rabindranath Tagore on toys, “I read somewhere what Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had said about toys, the best toy is that which is incomplete; a toy that children together complete  while playing. Gurudev Tagore had said that during his childhood, he used to make his own toys and games with his friends, with materials available at home, using his own imagination… Gurudev used to say that toys should be such that they bring out the childhood of a child and also his or her creativity..” And a commentator quickly reacted, “Chanting Tagore’s name repeatedly… 2021 Bengal election is coming….”

While the PM completely skipped talking about the raging entrance exams, almost every other comment was on the subject, “If my younger brother gets corona because of JEE exam , I promise I have 9 voters in my house , no one will ever going to vote for bjp,” said one.

By Monday, the BJP IT cell seems to have woken up to what has hit them. Slowly some comments are no longer seen. Many more are likely to vanish before the day ends, however, as comedian Shyam Rangeela, who shot to fame with his voice mimicry of the PM himself said, these “dislikes too may soon be seen as ‘dus’ (ten) likes” or even better, the forces that be may say “just invert your screens and all the thumbs down will appear to be thumbs up.” 



Jokes aside, when lakhs of students ensure that hashtags like “#studentdislikepmmodi #StudentsLivesMatters” start trending online, it could well be a sign the BJP may want to take note of. 



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