Much has been made of the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had lunch at the parliamentary canteen a few days back. The “event” has been covered by newspapers in excruciating detail, and the opposition Congress has taken a jibe at the PM for “eating subsidised food”.
That something like the PM having lunch at the parliamentary canteen being news suggests that something is seriously wrong. I mean, I know that the PM is a busy man and may not have time to socialise during lunch and all that, but considering that he’s also an MP and that parliament is in session, the parliamentary canteen is possibly the most logical place for him to have lunch if he didn’t have any other plans!
Some of the reports also talk about the fact that no prime minister in the last <numbers vary> years had done this, and reports also go on to make a big deal that Modi paid for his own lunch. The amount he paid and the amount he got back as change is also well noted. It is possible that there may not be much news happening, but the footage this event has received is definitely overblown.
Anyway, apart from the fact that this shouldn’t have been news, I have one other quibble with the whole episode. The Indian Express writes:
“As is standard operating procedure, the security personnel accompanying the PM tasted the food before it was served to him. They also took samples of all that was served to him — which is also the standard drill,” a senior catering official said, adding that these samples would be preserved for 72 hours during which they would be sent for testing.
Now, I know that we need to take utmost care for our Prime Minister’s health and safety and all that, but I found this bit a little weird. I mean, while it might be standard operating procedure, this event discloses a level of distrust in the food prepared by the government (IRCTC to be precise) run parliamentary canteen, and that cannot be good signalling!