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Twitter blows up on PM being featured in Reliance Jio ad

Political rivals, standup comics, and almost everyone else jibed, joked and probed, making Reliance, Mukesh Ambani and PM among top Twitter trends for almost 8 hours

Karan Choudhury & Amit Agnihotri  |  New Delhi 

Multiple newspapers carried his photograph along with Reliance Jio logo across India
Multiple newspapers carried his photograph along with Reliance Jio logo across India

From questions on legality to the most preposterous jokes, tweeple had a field day panning Narendra Modi and Reliance Jio after the country woke up to jacket advertisements in national dailies of the prime minister dressed in a blue jacket with the slogan ‘Jio: Digital Life’.

A day after the announcement of the launch of Reliance Jio, the global conglomerate floated advertisements in all major dailies. “In the journey of time, there come a few life-changing moments. Our honourable Prime Minister’s inspiring vision of a Digital India is one such movement. Jio is dedicated to realising our Prime Minister's Digital India vision for 1.2 billion Indians. Jio Digital Life will give the power of data to each Indian, to fulfill every dream and collectively take India to the global digital leadership,” the advertisement said.testing.. we are here....

Within hours Twitter was flooded with reactions, many wondering whether the prime minister was now the brand ambassador for Jio. Political rivals and standup comics had something to say about the advertisement. For almost eight hours on Friday morning Reliance, Mukesh Ambani and the prime minister were among the top trends on Twitter.

Many Twitter users asked if it was legal for a prime minister to be featured in an advertisement. From being called salesman of the year to ‘Mr Reliance’, the brickbats came from all corners.

There was no response from the Prime Ministers’ Office. This was primarily because most in the PMO who deal with such issues were travelling with the PM on his bilateral visits to Vietnam and onwards to China to attend the G20 Summit.

There was sharp criticism from the Congress and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. In a series of tweets, Kejriwal lambasted Modi over his association with Reliance. “Modiji, you carry on with modelling for Reliance. The labourers of India will unite to teach you a lesson in 2019,” he said in one of his tweets. He even called Modi Mr Reliance.

“We would like the prime minister to clarify whether his permission was sought for the advertisement,” Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken told Business Standard. He said if at all the PMO did give permission for the Reliance Jio advertisement, similar requests might come from other companies too. “Will he give permission to any other company?” Maken asked.

Maken pointed out as a minister in the previous United Progressive Alliance government he had to obtain permission from the PMO if his ministry wanted to use the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's picture in an advertisement. “There are norms for the use of a prime minister's picture. If permission was not given to Reliance Jio for this advertisement, the PMO can take action,” he said.

“These ads put to rest the doubts as to who the pradhan sevak works for. Jio Hind is the new anthem,” Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted.

"Dear creative heads at Jio, your biggest strength is the tariff you are offering, not the brand ambassador you are highlighting," she said.

Nishant Gambhir, a public rights lawyer, tweeted he had filed an RTI query over the ad. "I'm surprised to see PM @narendramodi in a @reliancejio ad. Have asked the following to the PMO in my RTI, (sic)" he said.

Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan tweeted, "Ambani & Modi: A mutual admiration society. As RIL runs full pg ads with PM's face, forget recovery of 11k cr of stolen gas (sic)."

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First Published: Sat, September 03 2016. 00:21 IST