Deuba sends social media into frenzy

  • No charm offensive
  • PM goes blunt on Sajha Sawal, heckles members of the audience
- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu

Jul 4, 2017-Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s first interview after assuming office, which was aired on Sunday night, sent social media aflutter throughout the day on Monday, with many finding enough fodder for criticism. 

Twitter and Facebook users were quick to troll Deuba, usually a man of few words who is known for his blunt rather than articulated answers, as they ridiculed him for his way of handling questions during BBC Sajha Sawal programme, with one of his answers to a member of the audience— “you are crossing the line”—becoming everyone’s favourite.

Deuba’s return to power after more than a decade is not much of charm for many, as he carries a historical burden of failing to hold elections during his earlier stints in 2002 and 2005. With the second phase of local polls concluded, he now has to oversee the third phase local polls set for September 18 and provincial and federal and national elections by January next year. And Deuba has an opportunity to rewrite his blighted history.

And there was no charm offensive from Deuba in the programme, as various members of the Twitterati did not waste time to make oblique references to what he was once branded by then king Gyanendra—“a failure”.

A translation of a tweet sent in Nepali by Kedar Sharma, who has more than 22,000 followers, reads: “Failure me. I watched the whole programme hoping that it would help change the image I have about the prime minister. But I was ashamed at times… and sometimes I was angry. Failure me.” 

Deuba indeed failed to handle questions, some said, pointing at the anxiousness that was on display since the start of the 48-minute television programme. 

Some even wondered whether Deuba should have agreed to participate in the programme. 

Unlike his contemporaries, including former prime ministers KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Deuba not only appeared fidgety but also aggressive at times. The programme was watched by 84,181 viewers on Youtube by 7pm on Monday.

Not all the comments were negative though. There were some who appreciated Deuba for “taking tough questions”.

“[sic] Prime Minister Deuba courageously answered entire questions. He isn’t an eloquent speaker and I don’t expect witty idiomatic expression,” Bipendra Karki wrote on Facebook. 

While some argued that some questions thrown at a sitting prime minister were inappropriate, others said people should not have expected more than what Deuba put on display, as he “has been like this for years”, at least to those who know him closely. 

Deuba also refused to answer some questions asked by the programme host, especially one related to the impeachment motion against then chief justice Sushila Karki. When asked when he would expand his Cabinet, he retorted: Why should I tell you?

PM Deuba’s aide Bhanu Deuba chose not to comment on the comments in the interview aftermath. “The prime minister was candid. It is his nature to deal with issues in a straightforward manner,” he said. He, however, agreed that the prime minister could have answered diplomatically.

Published: 04-07-2017 07:20

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