From the moment Modi tweeted that he would take to the airwaves in around 15 minutes to the time when he actually spoke, the one hour saw the nation virtually come to a grinding halt. After all, his last address to the nation was late evening on November 8, 2016, which led to demonetisation and the ensuing drama.
मेरे प्यारे देशवासियों, आज सवेरे लगभग 11.45 – 12.00 बजे मैं एक महत्वपूर्ण संदेश लेकर आप के बीच आऊँगा। I would b… https://t.co/yTPAFu30r2
— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1553665997000
What could it be this time? With the election campaign underway and the model code of conduct in force, what on earth was the PM up to?
That one hour possibly spawned the biggest fishing expedition in recent history. Speculation ranged from domestic policy to national security to underworld don-turned-global terrorist Dawood Ibrahim.
As the media surmised, led by television, and social media buzzed with theories and snarky jokes, the common man was not behind. From the idiot box to the pan shop, from the top administration to staff lower down, there was just one frantic query: What’s up this time?
“Boss, I hear queues are already building up outside ATMs,” a journalist shot off a message, only to be dismissed with contempt by the recipient. Policy decisions were ruled out in view of the code of conduct, the man profoundly said. Some said it could be about a personal decision with an eye on political mileage: like this being the PM’s last election in line with the retirement age being enforced in BJP.
Then trickled in the bit that the Cabinet Committee on Security had met in the morning. OMG! It was national security.
Post-Pulwama, the Pakistan front and Balakot operation fresh in minds, could the PM’s alert be related to something serious. War? Cannot be. Another armed or covert operation? That had the world interested.