Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh finally broke his long silence and gave the much-awaited statement on the demonstrations protesting the recent gang-rape of a medical student in New Delhi.
Perhaps he shouldn’t have spoken.
For, instead of soothing the seething masses, he ended up irking them further, with his end-of-the-speech ‘Theek Hai’ (all well?) remark.
What was meant to be a keystone address by Singh on women’s safety in India today, seven days after the brutal gang-rape of the Delhi medical student, turned into a furious Twitter trend after the PM ended his speech with a ‘theek hain’ (all well?) comment.
The PM evidently directed the question – Theek Hai – at the television crew, but Indian masses have taken to Twitter and other social media sites, criticising for his lackadaisical attitude, wooden face and an unemotional speech at a time when the country is bubbling with anger.
Singh must have thought that the camera had stopped rolling when he asked the question, but the gaffe went ‘live’, on air, and flowed from the actual ending.
The Twitterverse promptly went into overdrive with strong comments under the hastag #TheekHai about the PM’s ability to lead the nation at a crucial time like this.
#Theek Hai has in no time become the top trending phrase on Twitter in the UAE (as well as India), and people are responding with interesting tweets.
Bollywood actor Anupam Kher (@AnupamPkher) said Mr. Singh’s expression when he said “Theek Hai” “was d most Candid & Natural expression I have EVER seen from him.:)”
“Sorry, but PM’s speech was without feeling, wooden and totally unequal to the situation. The ‘theek hai’ at the end revealed it as theatre!” tweeted TV personality Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose).
In his televised remarks, Singh, in his characteristic lost-in-the-woods look, said: “My fellow citizens, There is genuine and justified anger and anguish at the ghastly crime of gang rape committed last Sunday in Delhi.
“As a father of three daughters myself, I feel as strongly about this as each one of you. My wife, my family and I are all joined in our concern for the young woman who was the victim of this heinous crime. We are constantly monitoring her medical condition. Let us all pray for her and her loved ones during this critical time.”
The comment about him being a father of three daughters did not go well with the masses, many of whom tweeted in response that while his daughters would be protected by gun-toting bodyguards, India’s millions of daughters are left hapless on the street.
“The Selfish PM says I have 03 daughters #shame ....I thought he wud say all the daughters in this country are mine #TheekHaiI,”tweeted Kalyani Oswal (@K_Oswal).
“If sab #TheekHai, there’d be no reason for you to speak @PMOIndia. Wish words seemed as if they came from the heart & not from sheet of paper,” tweeted Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal).
“I also feel deeply sad at the turn of events leading to clashes between protesters and police forces. Anger at this crime is justified but violence will serve no purpose. I appeal to all concerned citizens to maintain peace and calm. I assure you that we will make all possible efforts to ensure security and safety of women in this country,” the Prime Minister continued his speech even as Indian public went crazy listening to his words.
“The Home Minister has already spoken about the steps being taken. We will examine without delay not only the responses to this terrible crime but also all aspects concerning the safety of women and children and punishment to those who commit these monstrous crimes. Our Government will keep you informed of the steps we are taking and the processes we are following.
“I appeal to all sections of society to maintain peace and help us in our efforts.”
And then came the now-famous “Theek hai” comment, which resulted in the seething anger just boil over afresh.
“#TheekHai Is Manmohan Singh just a piece of furniture? Maybe, but he is of good quality. Teak Hai,” tweeted Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats).
A 23-year-old girl was brutally raped and beaten up in a moving bus in the national capital on the fateful night of November 17.
Thousands of protesters in Delhi took to the streets on Saturday and Sunday demanding justice for the rape survivor and death penalty for the culprits.
However, the focus of the statement has now turned into a debate on Singh’s own status in the PM’s office. Surely all is not ‘theek hai’.