Seldom do critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi miss any opportunity to mock him for allegedly attaching ‘first’ to everything he’s usually part of.
On several occassion in the past, when the prime minister’s supporters described many of his foreign trips as being the first by him, his detractors were quick to highlight the glaring inaccuracies in such claims.
Many even dubbed it as willful deception to portray the previous non-BJP governments in poor light.
Monday was no different when few news copies carried by leading media brands including NDTV and Indian Express prominently highlighted how Modi was the first PM to visit Iran in 15 years with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, another BJP prime minister, being the last one to visit.
Indian Express report said, “As Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Tehran for his first visit — 15 years after the last Indian PM to come to Iran, Atal Behari Vajpayee — India and Iran were preparing to sign about six agreements and talk about trade and connectivity.”
However, Indian Express, only five days ago, had carried a forward looking piece on Modi’s Iran visit. Written by the same reporter, the piece had said this;
“Modi’s visit, which takes place almost four years after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went to Tehran for the NAM Summit in 2012, will be key in charting the “new chapter” in the relationship. It is to be hoped that India would not want to wait “centuries”, as Ambassador Ansari put it, before capturing the right opportunities in Iran.”
NDTV, while highlighting 10 key points attached to Modi’s Iran visit too stated this being the first visit to the persian gulf country by any Indian prime minister in 15 years.
BJP’s supporters on social media too picked up the aspect to drive home a point on sigbificant improvement in India’s foreign policy under Modi.
— Sanjeeb Kumar (@SKonPolitics) May 22, 2016
— Ashima ?? (@AshiQuotes) May 23, 2016
PM Modi is first Indian PM in 15 yrs to visit Iran- acche din ki pahchaan – #ModiInIran
— pragati mukhopadhyay (@UniversePragati) May 23, 2016
But these claims and reportage by reputed news brands were strongly countered as social media users sought to remind how former PM, Manmohan Singh, had visited Iran as recently as in 2012 and it hadn’t been 15 years since then.
This user posted the link to ministry of external affairs website, which showed coverage on Singh’s visit to Iran in 2012.
— KTL (@K_T_L) May 22, 2016
On Facebook, user Celine Mary posted a screenshot of NDTV website while adding that the ‘first’ attached with Modi was factually wrong.
She wrote, “Manmohan Singh attended the NAM summit in Tehran in 2012. Is it 15 years already? Are these journalists plain lazy or are they doing this under a specific strategy?