Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian delegation received much positive coverage in the Indian and Bhutanese media, slips by the PM and the External Affairs Minister also made their mark on the social media.
In his speech to the Joint session of Bhutan’s parliament Mr. Modi said, "I want to begin with a tribute to the Nepal...Bhutan royal family that ensured democratic values and protected people's rights”.
The use of Nepal instead of Bhutan is ironic, as Bhutan has always had uneasy relations with Nepal over the problem of exiled Nepali refugees and the countries share a rivalry over the course of the monarchy and democracy in their respective countries.
Later in the speech Mr. Modi also referred to “Ladakh” instead of Bhutan, leading to some on twitter draw parallels to S. M. Krishna’s reading of the wrong country’s speech at the UNGA, while others referred to Mr. Modi’s mistakenly referring to Takshashila in Bihar during his election campaign. When asked, officials dismissed it as a “twitter controversy”.
Speaking to the media in Thimphu, Ms. Swaraj also drew some laughs when she was asked if her upcoming Bangladesh visit could rival the success of the Bhutan visit, and she replied it would be “Bhutan se bhi achcha” (better than Bhutan). Fortunately her Bhutanese hosts didn’t seem to mind the comparison.
However the catch-phrase of the PM’s maiden state visit was certainly B4B-the phrase that Ms. Swaraj called a “quotable quote” by Mr. Modi who said B4B referred to “Bharat for Bhutan” and “Bhutan for Bharat”, while visually, the image of the Prime Minister leaving his motorcade and security to personally greet crowds who had lined up for him will perhaps be remembered as well.