Prime Minister Narendra Modi loves to speak and this Independence Day was no different as he spoke non-stop for 90 minutes. Even as it meant that sheer ‘boredom’ had put both the PM’s best buddy Arun Jaitley and worst enemy Arvind Kejriwal allegedly to sleep.
Both Congress and Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party wasted no time in taking a dig at Modi’s speech advising that it should win the Olympics Gold for being the most boring speech.
However, what soon became a controversial subject of discussion was not the length of Modi’s speech but what he said during his monologue.
While talking about his government’s achievement, Modi claimed of huge success in bringing electricity to more villages. This was a pledge he had made during his last year’s Independence Day speech.
Modi said on Monday, “Out of 18,000 villages, more than 10,000 villages have been electrified. The village of Nagla Fatela is only three hours from Delhi, but it took more than 70 years for it to get electricity. I have been told they are with us, watching this celebration of Independence Day.”
Modi’s official Twitter handle @PMOIndia tweeted a photo of group of people allegedly sitting in Nagla Fatela village and watching his speech on a TV set.
His tweet said, “People of Nagla Phatela watching the Independence Day celebrations for the first time. More power to them. :)”
An enthusiastic union power minister, Piyush Goyal, went a step further and tweeted not one but several photos of people watching Independence Day celebrations claiming that they were in in the newly electrified villages. It was also to imply that the villagers were now able to bring the electricity to good use by watching Modi’s speech.
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) August 15, 2016
Soon the villagers of Nagla Fatela punctured the claims made by Modi and his enthusiastic minister. They said that the photo with children watching the Independence Day programme did not belong to “our village.”
The village head of Nagla Fatela said, “No programme was organised in our village. The picture with children watching the Independence Day programme does not belong to our village.”
Villagers said that while poles had been set up and electricity metres installed in the houses but there was still no power supply.
Faced with widespread embarrassment, the union power ministry quickly issued a clarification without realising that its content would cause more embarrassment to the central government and Modi than the inaccurate claims made by the prime minister.
Titled as “Electrification of Village Nagla Fatela, Hathras -Facts at a Glance,” the clarification issued by ministry of power confessed that the electrification of ‘said village was proposed’ by the Uttar Pradesh’s Akhilesh Yadav government and the Detailed Project Report was sanctioned by the UPA government on ‘20.12.2013 and sanction letter was released by Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) on 06.01.2014.’
From the ministry of power’s clarification, it’s abundantly clear that not only did the prime minister make a false claim on his achievement, his government had also not played any part even in the process to create infrastructure to electrify Nagla Fatela village.
The statement by ministry of power further explained the circumstances leading to Modi making an embarrassing claim during an important speech being broadcast live on almost all news channels in India.
It said, “The DISCOM (DVVNL Agra) confirmed on 26.02.2015 that village Nagla Fatela is still un-electrified.
“DVVNL Agra, reported in October 2015 that infrastructure work for electrification of the village Nagla Fatela has been completed and the village has been electrified. Accordingly the village has been shown as electrified in the GARV App by REC.”
The question that is yet to be answered by both Modi and power ministry is that on whose behest the fake photo of group of people sitting in Nagla Fatela was created and posted from the PMO’s twitter handle.