Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s teleprompter fail is causing quite the storm in India. Last evening, Modi faced an alleged teleprompter glitch during his World Economic Forum (WEF) virtual address.
Videos of the WEF address made the rounds on social media, sparking a debate among Indians. The video clips showed Indian PM Modi off-guard in the middle of his speech. Modi looked sideways at his team questioningly. He then fumbled with his air piece and asked if the participants could hear his voice.
After assurance that there was nothing wrong with the audio, the PM asks if his interpreter’s voice is clear. The WEF stopped the broadcast for several minutes before announcing the Prime Minister of India, who resumed his address from the beginning.
Needless to say, Modi’s several seconds of confusion became the number one trend in India as many Indians attributed it to a teleprompter fail. As a result, Modi became the victim of internet trolls. Indians mocked Modi for not being able to speak without a teleprompter. Some even claimed that Modi does not address press conferences since there are no teleprompters to read from. Many Indians called the incident a national embarrassment.
Rahul Gandhi proven correct yet again! It is laughable that Modi cannot even speak a word without a teleprompter and shameful that it happened on an international podium. RG on the other hand, can take questions and speak without any prompter. #TeleprompterPM #RG24 pic.twitter.com/1shDRnijqH
— RG Mission 2024 (@RGMission24) January 18, 2022
Amid the trolling, Modi’s Opposition members heavily criticized him. Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Tuesday “Even teleprompter could not bear such lies”. Rahul previously attacked Modi over his allegedly choreographed speeches. During campaigning for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Rahul alleged Modi “speaks by looking at the teleprompter and his speech is controlled by a controller from behind,” Indian media reported.
Not a teleprompter glitch?
Meanwhile, supporters of Modi rushed to defend him. They claimed that the technical glitch was at the WEF’s end. Apparently, WEF could not get through to Modi, hence they requested him to start again.
— Vinay Kumar Dokania🇮🇳 (@VinayDokania) January 17, 2022
On the other hand, Pratik Sinha, who runs the fact-checking outlet Alt News, tweeted it was unlikely Modi had a “teleprompter gaffe”.
Sinha shared a clip from the WEF version of the speech, in which someone in the background could be heard asking Modi, “Sir aap unse ek baar pooche ki sab jud gaye kya (Sir, please ask him [Schwab] if everything is clear)”.
“The teleprompter is typically in the front. When the PM is distracted, he looks to the side, where probably the team managing the event from the PMO is sitting. It is likely that someone from the team was trying to get the PM’s attention,” Pratik Sinha tweeted.