Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks in China and South Korea about Indians being ashamed of being born in the country before his government came to power triggered one of Twitter’s top trends, the hashtag #ModiInsultsIndia, on Tuesday.
By Wednesday afternoon #ModiInsultsIndia had garnered more than 1,40,000 tweets.
"Earlier, you felt ashamed of being born Indian," Modi was quoted by The Hindu as saying during an interaction with the Indian community in Shanghai on Saturday. "Now you feel proud to represent the country. Indians abroad had all hoped for a change in government last year."
Modi echoed the same idea when he addressed a gathering of Indians in Seoul on Monday. "There was a time when people used to say we don’t know what sins we committed in our past life that we were born in Hindustan. Is this any country, is this any government…we will leave," he said, speaking in Hindi.
"There was a time when people used to leave, businessmen used to say we can’t do business here. These people are ready to come back. The mood has changed."
Video | Indians were ashamed till a year ago: Modi does an encore in S Korea
These comments evoked a strong reaction from Twitterati, some of whom criticised the Prime Minister for "insulting" his own country.
For a short period of time on Tuesday, another hashtag #ModiIndiasPride was also on the top trends’ list. Most of the tweets with this hashtag were praises showered on the Prime Minister.
The Congress party reacted to Modi's comments saying, "We have always been proud of India, Shri Modi ! #ModiInsultsIndia". The party accused Modi of "speaking without applying any thought" and said that "a wrong person has become India's Prime Minister".
"We have never seen such low level and degraded politics in the country. Modi blows his own trumpet abroad. He speaks without thinking. It has become his habit," senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said after playing a clip of the PM's speech.
Sibal said the people had made a mistake by choosing Modi as the Prime Minister. "You have made a wrong person the Prime Minister... Instead of focusing on main issues, Modi would say that his biggest achievement was to bring US president Barack Obama as the chief guest on Republic Day while farmers and small traders were suffering," he said.
Twitter user @joginderrawat wrote, “Modi is the first PM who feel insulted being Indian at abriad (sic). Indian felt proud always being an Indian.”
Born in England, choose to carry an Indian passport & no Mr PM I've never been embarrassed to show my passport anywhere, ever.— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) May 19, 2015
Many others pointed out that they were proud of India, no matter who was the Prime Minister. One such comment was, “Modiji I am a proud Indian irrespective of you are PM or not.”
Modiji I am a proud Indian irrespective of you are PM or not. #ModiInsultsIndia— Aam Janta (@Passion_India) May 18, 2015
Another tweet echoed the same sentiment: “India is a nation built by blood and sweat of every Indian. A PM referring tht Indians were an ashamed country is detrimental.”
Twitter user Shwetanshu, (@ShwetanshuMishr ) wrote he was never ashamed of being an Indian since great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose lived and died for the country.
“We are not ashamed of being born in India. Bapu, Netaji,Bagha Jatin,Khudiram Bose all died for India! #ModiInsultsIndia,” he tweeted.
Apart from freedom fighters and historical figures, people referred to India’s economy and other positive developments to criticise Modi’s comments.
User @onlyursmusa wrote, “How can you be ashamed of India. The 2nd largest growing economy in the world @narendramodi & it was before you became PM! #ModiInsultsIndia”
Some even pointed to India’s success in sports to counteract Modi’s claim. For example, this tweet:
Some users commented on the “victory speech” style of the Prime Minister.
“Some1 needs to tell him Elections r over & he is PM already for over 1 year. Enough with victory speech get some work done,” wrote user @VAvinash.
#ModiInsultsIndia Some1 needs to tell him Elections r over & he is PM already for over 1 year Enough with Victory speech Get some work done— Pee Politics :) (@VAvinash) May 18, 2015
Many Twitter handles actively tweeting with #ModiInsultsIndia appear to be supporters of the opposition Congress party, with #WithRG in their profile names like Amar #WithRG (@vistadreamz) or WithRG (@withRG) or Navin #WithRG (@navinstweets) or Shuja Gandhi #WithRG ?(@shujagandhi).
Prime Minister should maintain the dignity of the post and should not try to play dirty politics everywhere. #ModiInsultsIndia— WithRG (@withRG) May 18, 2015
Former Delhi chief minisiter Sheila Dikshit's close associate Pawan Khera tweeted, "India was not ashamed despite your shenanigans in Gujarat. India is more, much more than you can ever understand #ModiInsultsIndia."
India was not ashamed despite your shenanigans in Gujarat. India is more, much more than you can ever understand #ModiInsultsIndia— Pawan Khera (@Pawankhera) May 19, 2015
(The writer tweets as