Does Modi Deserve the Trolling Over the Somalia-Kerala Comparison?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo: AP)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo: AP)

Does Modi Deserve the Trolling Over the Somalia-Kerala Comparison?

Time and again politicians make remarks that end up ruffling more than just a few feathers. And when feathers are ruffled, the Twitterati is unforgiving.

Social media proved the causticity of its trolling prowess when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a remark comparing Somalia with Kerala.


On 9 May, the Prime Minister, addressing the people of Thiruvananthapuram, during an election campaign, said:

The unemployment rate in Kerala is at least three-times higher than the national average. Infant mortality rate among the Scheduled Tribe community in Kerala is worse than Somalia. The state can meet only 13 percent of their requirement of agricultural products. Even after 70 years of Independence, Kerala depends on other states for 70 percent of its power requirements. Similarly, most of the youth in Kerala are forced to leave their home state in search of a job. Only through overall development, the state could be brought back to its past glory.

It was an unfortunate comment, based perhaps on loosely researched facts, as many have been more than willing to point out. Soon enough, many took to Twitter to express their views on the statement using #PoMoneModi (which roughly translates to ‘Go Home, Modi’).

When Twitter Trolls Strike

Some Tweets Pointed out to the Passive (and Not So Passive) Racism

Some Were More Measured

Recent Controversy Over Modi’s Qualifications Dragged in

Chandy Calls Modi’s Assertions ‘a Blatant Lie’

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy demanded an apology from the Prime Minister for the comment.

You made statements that had nothing to do with the reality and likened Kerala to Somalia. This is unbecoming of a Prime Minister and has created a great deal of agony. I can assure you that no child in Kerala takes stale food. In Kerala, 25.02 lakh school students are provided with free midday meal, and egg on one day and milk on another day in a week.

Chandy provided more details about the prosperity of his state and called Modi’s remarks “a blatant lie”.

For five years, Kerala had been providing rice at Rs 1 to 94 lakh people. Now, this was being given free of cost, making us the second state in India to do so. ... The facts being so, what was your motive behind saying such a blatant lie to the people of Kerala? Yet, you compared Kerala to Somalia that is reeling under poverty and internal strife. Is it not a shame for the Prime Minister to pronounce that a state like Somalia exists in the country?

As the war of words between the two politicians unfolded, #PoMoneModi became a trending hashtag on Twitter. While more and more netizens mock, satirise, support or reject Modi’s comment, attention is clearly diverted from real issues.

Do you think trolling on social media routinely draws attention from the bigger picture? Let us know in the comments below.

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