CHANDIGARH: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘unscheduled’ visit to Gurudwara Rakabganj on Sunday to pay tribute to Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru, for his supreme sacrifice was followed by his trademark tweets in different languages and initially got considerable publicity as it was in the midst of the farmers protests just outside the national capital.

However, within a day videos cut into this, recording verses recited by a community elder that clearly made the PM’s media managers think again. As the verse recited by the elder at the gurudwara translated roughly says, “Whether you read holy scriptures or become a part of the Sangat (congregation) but if your thought has not changed, you have not worked for the welfare of humanity, it is all futile.”

Now, whether it was done by design to mark the community’s protest or it was a coincidence, no one can tell. But the videos have gone viral on social media, generating comment from all sides. The farmers have been tweeting about this, along with their supporters.

But this is not a first.

An old timer in the know told this reporter that just a couple of years after Operation Blue Star when a Congress minister was visiting the Golden Temple, his entry to the shrine was marked by the recitation of a verse from Guru Nanak that compared cruel kings to dogs. Here again, no one could tell whether this was a mere coincidence or something else.

It is also not a first for PM Modi. This reporter was working in Gujarat when the state government public relations machinery, in one of the years after Modi’s landslide victory in 2002 assembly polls, deposited a compact disc with ‘important news’ to every media organization including the now openly pliant television channels. The CD contained an old photograph of Modi in the garb of a Sikh. The defining text stated that Modi had deceived the authorities during the Emergency while moving about as a Sikh. This was released by the state authorities on the anniversary of the 1975 Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Professor (Retired) Manjeet Singh who is an expert in Sociology sees Modi’s public relations drive amongst the Sikhs as a part of his carrot and stick approach to the farmers’ agitation. “On one side there is a move to isolate the Punjabi farmers and on the other the government goes on the defensive. The agitators have been labeled day after day in an attempt to isolate them. But the people from Punjab and Haryana have not been buying any false narrative,” he said.

He further pointed out that for the BJP it is essential that Modi’s ‘charisma’ remains intact among the larger masses across the country. “That is why efforts are being made to present this goody goody image of tolerance and good relations,” he added.

In the second week of December, the state public relations machinery had according to sections of the media utilized the user information of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation to send across no less than two crore emails carrying a 47 page booklet highlighting the Prime Minister's special relationship with the Sikh Community.