Last update: February 9, 2024, 18:22 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lunch with MPs at the Parliament building’s first floor canteen. (News18)
From questions about his favorite dish to more serious topics such as the Covid-19 crisis or his surprise visit to Pakistan in 2015, parliamentarians from all parties had the opportunity to have an informal conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a lunch at the Parliament canteen. Sources told News18 about what happened at lunch.
For at least eight MPs from different parties, it came as a pleasant surprise on Friday afternoon when they received a call from the Prime Minister’s Office saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted to meet them in Parliament. Among the MPs were Union Minister L Murugan, BJD Rajya Sabha MP Sasmit Batra, Senior Lok Sabha MP NK Prema Chandran, TDP MP Ram Mohan Naidu, BSP MP Ritesh Pandey, BJP’s Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal and BJP’s Nagaland S Phangnon Konyak.
When the MPs reached the PMO, they were asked to wait for a while, after which PM Modi joined them. To his surprise, the prime minister told them: “I want to take you out to punish you!” The curious MPs were led by the Prime Minister to the MPs’ canteen on the first floor of the Parliament building.
Soon, MPs sat down to lunch with Prime Minister Modi, and the bites were punctuated by an hour of conversations, both political and personal.
Sources say one of the first questions an MP asked PM Modi was “what is your favorite dish?” And soon came the Prime Minister’s response: khichdi.
When asked how he managed his time and how he dealt with work pressure even when traveling and working late, PM Modi is said to have replied, “I am used to working long hours; “Sometimes I don’t realize that I haven’t slept for a whole day.” The prime minister reportedly added that his experience as Chief Minister of Gujarat comes in handy.
Among the most serious questions, an MP asked the Prime Minister about his unscheduled visit to Nawaz Sharif’s daughter’s wedding in Pakistan in 2015.
Recalling the run-up to the surprise visit, the prime minister said he was in Parliament until 2pm that day and then left for a scheduled visit to Afghanistan. He said that on the way back from Afghanistan he decided to stop in Pakistan, but the SPG refused. He said that he nevertheless called Sharif and asked him if Pakistan’s prime minister was ready to receive him. Once the security arrangements of both sides were given the go-ahead, the prime minister landed in Pakistan.
Some MPs also wanted to understand the management of the Covid-19 crisis from the Prime Minister’s point of view. Sources say Prime Minister Modi told lawmakers that his experience in handling the situation after the devastating 2001 earthquake in Bhuj, Gujarat, was helpful. He added that he was also able to rely on that experience to advise the Nepalese government after the April 2015 earthquake that hit the Himalayan nation.
One of the MPs told News18 that while there was no set format for the conversation with the prime minister, it was the lawmakers who were “setting the agenda”. “The Prime Minister listened to us as we continued to ask question after question.”
Towards the end of the conversation, an MP asked the Prime Minister how he relaxes. “I do yoga without fail and keep my mind and body relaxed through various forms of exercise and meditation,” Modi is reported to have responded.
“Look, I’m eating with you and I’m completely relaxed. I am not a PM 24×7 or wherever I go. “I am a human being as normal as each of you.”