Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar:  Amidst the growing challenge of Covid-19 count in the country, PM Narendra Modi addressed the nation for the fourth time in last 24 days.

Between his first address, when Modi announced lockdown 1.0, and the fourth one today, when lockdown 2.0 extended till May 3, the cases of novel coronavirus have grown by a humongous 19 times.

Significantly, the threatening pace of Coronavirus in India has, indeed, cast an impact on PM Modi's actions.

As face masks are termed as the 'wall' in masking the march of coronavirus, after sporting a homemade mask in CM's conference, the discernible shift today was, PM Modi, unlike his Lockdown 1.0 address, was seen sporting a traditional 'Gamucha' (local towel) as face cover.

Even, minutes after address to nation, PM Modi changed his twitter profile image. PM Modi's twitter handle now looked like this (image given above).


Moreover, despite arriving at a clear cut decision by consensus on April 11 at a conference with the Chief Ministers, PM Modi waited till April 14 to address the nation. Also, this time he didn't chose 8 PM, rather 10 AM.

A series of conscious shift in the actions of PM Modi before going for the announcement of Lockdown 2.0 flashes up in one's mind the words of great American author John C Maxwell. He said, "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way."

PM Modi through his address tried to convey the aam admi in villages and cities, the USP of humble 'gamuchas' in fighting the Covid-19 battle in India. 'Gamuchas' are ubiquitous in daily chores of every individual in India. And PM Modi strategically has pulled the right strings to fight the corona battle.

Similarly, Modi decided to address the nation on Ambedkar Jayanti with a purpose. As the lockdown 1.0 has hurt the poor, downtrodden and workers in unorganised sector the hardest, he recalled the father of Indian constitution Babasaheb Ambedkar's words, "We the people of India.." to drive home the message of collective responsibility of the nation in all times - good or bad.

However, technically seen, the announcement regarding extension of lockdown 2.0 on April 14 could be attributed to the simple reason that the tenure of lockdown 1.0 ends today (April 14).

But politically speaking, the PM touched hearts of the poor and downtrodden of the country by invoking their messiah Babasaheb Ambedkar, especially when from Mayawati to India National Congress, all have started taking pot shots at PM Modi's lockdown impact on such marginalised class.

Addressing the daily wagers, Modi termed them as his "larger family". "My government will soon (April 20) introduce some relaxations for the daily wagers, post a proper assessment of Covid-19 situation right up to police station level," he declared.

Moreover, putting forth his rationale behind lockdown extension, PM Modi candidly said in his address that country announced lockdown, when cases were just 550, now the Covid-19 positives in the country stood at 10,453  "despite all measures."

The bottomline: Armed with consensus among the states on lockdown extension, PM Modi draws up his plan of action to lead from the front in this Covid-19 hour of crisis.