GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
PRIME Minister Narendra Modi’s “hug diplomacy” had evoked curious and surprising observations and anticipation among the politicians and the common man alike. The bonhomie between Modi and a particular world leader was predicted based on whether or not Modi would embrace that world leader. The Prime Minister, who is known to be adept in his homework, must have read about a hug being a smile with arms and a laugh with a stronger grip. Therefore, Modi was unstoppable; he even took the strongman Donald Trump by arm and warmly clutched him. That a single, good hug, was more powerful than thousand meaningful words, world leaders are not in the dark about. The “hug diplomacy” seems to have endeared Congress president Rahul Gandhi who, by all means, did the unfathomable by tightly hugging Modi after his speech on the no-confidence motion in the Parliament by walking up to Modi. Whether Gandhi wanted to make a robust political statement by embracing the Prime Minister is the moot point because both he and Modi can hardly be described as friends or well-wishers. His intention may not have been to embarrass Modi, the master of all huggers, by embracing him because the Prime Minister’s political acumen and quick recovery time is well-known. Was the young Congress president symbolising his party’s ideology of “love and goodwill”? Most importantly, was it preordained or impromptu? The country is in a discussion mode over Gandhi’s intent but the latter had clearly stolen the thunder from Modi’s answer against the no-confidence motion. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan indeed sported a sardonic smile over Gandhi breaking the House rules; but such gestures are not restricted by regulations. Though Modi’s response to Gandhi’s hug was sarcastic, nothing can be taken away from the Congress president’s expression. Without an iota of doubt, the “friendly hug” of Gandhi will dominate the future election campaigns of the Congress. “We will win with love” posters have cropped up in parts of Mumbai – pointer to things to come. Gandhi’s hug may not have had the warmth of a hugger or may not have given light to the recipient, but it will not be erased easily from the minds but the hug has come to stay.