New Delhi: Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scrambled to defend Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he had to restart his Davos Agenda address for the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday took a swipe saying "even the teleprompter could not take so much lies". There was no official reaction from the government or the WEF on the incident.
In a tweet, BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga slammed those criticising the PM.
"Don't those getting excited at the tech glitch not realise that the problem was at WEF's end? They were not able to patch PM, so requested him to start again, which is evident in the way Klaus Schwab said that he will again give a short introduction and then open up the session," he said.
Several other BJP leaders cited the same reason for the incident and some posted a video from the WEF's YouTube channel, showing the sequence of events.
According to the video and pointers along with it shared by BJP leaders, Prime Minister Modi's speech started abruptly from the middle without English interpretation. The prime minister was interrupted by the co-ordinator who asked him to check if all had been connected, Schwab then started the official session and Modi again started his speech with English interpretation being shared.
The teleprompter jibe
Several Congress leaders and social media users claimed that it was a "teleprompter gaffe" as Prime Minister Modi had to pause and then restart his special address to the World Economic Forum's online Davos Agenda 2022 summit, but BJP leaders and many others pointed out that it was a technical glitch due to which the WEF people were not able to patch the PM and requested him to start again.
In an apparent dig at Prime Minister Modi, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi, "Even the teleprompter could not take so much lies."
Fact-checking website Alt News co-founder Pratik Sinha said it is unlikely that the prime minister had a teleprompter gaffe.
"If you look at the WEF version of the recording of his speech, someone in the background says, 'Sir, aap unse ek baar pooche ki sab jud gaye kya' (Sir, ask them once if everyone is connected). This portion is not clear in the video live-streamed on PM's YouTube channel."
"After this, the PM questions if he and the interpreter can be heard properly, to which (WEF executive chairman) Klaus Schwab responds stating that he can.
"However, Schwab interrupts the PM's speech to give a brief introduction. The PM repeats the whole speech again," Sinha said, recounting the events from Monday evening during the prime minister's address.
However, several Congress leaders took a dig at the prime minister over the incident.
Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Teleprompter se bhashan chal sakta hai, shasan nahin. Kal ye poore desh ki samajh mein aa gaya (You can give a speech but not rule using a teleprompter. The whole country understood this yesterday).
The Congress, on its official Twitter handle, shared the video of the prime minister taking a pause in his speech, calling him the "teleprompter guy".
Youth Congress tweeted, "Failed to address after teleprompter stopped working, PM Modi failed to represent the country on World Economic Forum!".
(With PTI inputs.)