New Delhi, July 2 (Reuters): With many Indians worrying about the threat of tough measures in the Narendra Modi government’s first budget next week, a Facebook post suggesting finance minister Arun Jaitley might be pondering less earthly matters quickly roused anger today.
Jaitley published a message celebrating “World UFO Day” on his Facebook page, one of the main forums in which he publishes official information.
“This day is celebrated to raise awareness about the existence of UFO’s (sic) and with that intelligent beings from outer space,” said the post, which was followed by Jaitley’s name and included a depiction of a flying saucer in a wheat field.
World UFO Day is a day dedicated to spotting and proving the existence of Unidentified Flying Objects. It was first celebrated in 2001, according to the website worldufoday.com.
A member of Jaitley’s personal staff, who declined to be named, confirmed that their team had posted the message about World UFO Day and said the account had not been hacked. The post was deleted half an hour after Reuters contacted the team.
The post sparked a storm of criticism among his followers and was deleted after a few hours.
“Sir FM, today we the people of India are celebrating the price hike day instead of UFO day,” a Facebook user called V. Bhushan Bhushansharma said in a comment on Jaitley’s post, referring to the recent rise in rail fares and fuel prices.
On July 10, Jaitley is expected to unveil a budget that will try to rein in a wide fiscal deficit partly by curbing the government’s high subsidy bill. He said yesterday that “bold steps” were needed to ensure fiscal discipline.
Prime Minister Modi, too, has spoken of the need for some “bitter medicine”.
“Sir instead of talking on outer space, please confine your discussion on the hardship faced by common men,” a Facebook user called Ganesh Choudhary said in a comment on Jaitley’s post.
“People are confused and scared about the undefined miseries which are going to heaped upon them in the names of restoring fiscal health of the country.”
Officials in the finance ministry said they had seen the Facebook post and advised the minister’s personal media team to be more careful about what is published on his Facebook account.