Ghalib or not: Couplet quoted by PM stirs controversy

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Mirza Ghalib

Mumbai–Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday used an Urdu couplet to take a jibe at senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, and wrongly attributed it to Mirza Ghalib, experts including veteran writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar pointed out.

“The ‘sher’ that the Prime Minister saheb has quoted in his Rajya Sabha speech is wrongly attributed to Ghalib in the social media. Actually both the lines are not even in the proper meter,” Akhtar tweeted.

The Prime Minister used the couplet to say Azad has blurred vision.

“I think Ghulam Nabi Azadji is having blurred vision, maybe he is seeing everything from political spectacles. Ghalib said something for such people, ‘Ta umr Ghalib ye bhool karta raha, dhool chehre pe thi, aaina saaf karta raha,” Modi said.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was one of the popular social media users to comment: “Clever use of a Mirza Ghalib couplet by the PM in the Rajya Sabha.”

However, experts who have read Ghalib closely have dismissed it is by the legendary Urdu poet, who died 150 years ago.

Ghalib, as per theatre writer, actor, director Sayeed Alam, is the “most quoted and misquoted” poets, especially at a time when Urdu is decaying in the country.

Saif Mehmood, Supreme Court lawyer and author of “Beloved Delhi: A Mughal City and her Greatest Poets”, told IANS: “Not only does this couplet have nothing to do with Ghalib, attributing it to Ghalib is a slur on the man, his poetry and his skills.”

Mehmood said the question is not of the couplet’s meter alone.

Popular radio jockey Sayema tweeted: “PM wrongly quotes Mirza Ghalib! Whoever wrote the speech didn’t do thorough research.” (IANS)

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