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Modi Bowled MPs Over

Modi Bowled MPs Over

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Feb 9: In an unexpected gesture, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday invited some of his fellow Parliamentarians across the party line for a lunch in the Parliament canteen and literally bowled them over with his simplicity and friendly attitude.

The unexpected gesture rarely seen in the halls of power pleasantly surprised his fellow Members of Parliament. During a seemingly ordinary day at the Parliament canteen, PM Modi invited MPs to join him for an impromptu lunch, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and informality.

The menu was a testament to Modi’s preference for simple, vegetarian fare—a preference he has maintained even during his travels, as evidenced by his choice of dishes like Harees (wheat) and dates salad during his visit to the UAE. At the Parliament canteen, the spread included wholesome Indian staples such as rice, daal, khichdi, and til ka laddoo, all served at a modest cost of Rs 29.

He caught fellow MPs by surprise telling them “I’m going to punish you today, come with me.” At around 2:30 pm, the MPs got a call that the Prime Minister wanted to meet them. The PM told them, “Chaliye, aapko ek punishment dena hai (Let us go. I have to give you punishment).”

The MPs were surprised when the lift door opened, and they were taken to the canteen. One of the MPs later said, “We were called, and we went up and then realised where we were going…the canteen door opened.” “When we reached the canteen, we were in the visitors’ lounge. We all looked at each other and wondered how come we all have been called!” the MP added.

During the casual conversation, PM Modi shared that his favourite food is khichdi. “I’m not always in PM mode. I just wanted to have good food. Rice, daalkhichditil ka laddoo were among the fare served at the vegetarian lunch.

During the 45-minute lunch, MPs, across party lines, asked about the Prime Minister’s lifestyle, when he wakes up, and how he manages such a packed schedule. “It was a purely casual, cordial meeting with the PM for lunch at the MPs’ canteen. It was a good gesture,” one of the MPs said. “It did not feel like we were sitting with the Prime Minister,” said another.

Covering a range of subjects, the Prime Minister spoke about his surprise visit to meet Nawaz Sharif despite the Special Protection Group (SPG) objecting to his visit, his foreign tours, and the Statue of Unity, among others. The Prime Minister also spoke about the Abu Dhabi temple, for which he laid the foundation stone in 2018 and which he is set to visit next week. It is the first Hindu temple project in Abu Dhabi, the PM said, underscoring India’s soft power. The MPs said it was a “great, informal experience.” “We were asking all the questions, we were setting the agenda!” they said.

The lunch was not just about food; it was an opportunity for cross-party dialogue and personal interaction with the Prime Minister. MPs from various parties, including TDP’s Ram Mohan Naidu, BSP’s Ritesh Pandey, BJP’s Ladakh MP Jamyang Namgyal, Union Minister L Murugun, Sasmit Patra of BJD, and BJP’s Maharashtra MP Heena Gavit, were among those who attended. They engaged in conversations with PM Modi on a range of topics, from his daily routine and packed schedule to his impromptu visit to meet Nawaz Sharif and his foreign tours.

“Am not going to punish you at all, come with me,” PM Modi was quoted as saying to the MPs. PM Modi also discussed the significance of the Abu Dhabi temple project, for which he laid the foundation stone in 2018, highlighting India’s soft power. The casual and cordial nature of the meeting left a lasting impression on the MPs, with one remarking on the good gesture and another expressing how it didn’t feel like sitting with the Prime Minister, but rather a more relaxed and approachable figure. “It did not feel like we were sitting with the Prime Minister,” said another. After lunch, the Prime Minister instructed his officers to make the payment.

 

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