Addressing a public rally in Nagercoil, the Congress chief spoke in English; he was assisted by former MP KV Thangkabalu who took generous liberties with translating his speech.

Thangkabalu in action What PM Modi and Rahul have in common is their terrible translatorsYouTube: Indian National Congress
news Lok Sabha 2019 Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 15:01

It’s election season in the country and Congress President Rahul Gandhi was in Tamil Nadu to kick off campaigning in the state. While all was well with his interactions with students and the press in Chennai, it was at the leader’s Nagercoil public rally that things really took a turn for the... hilarious. While Rahul Gandhi opted to speak in English, veteran Congressman and former MP KV Thangkabalu provided his translation services, albeit with a generous dose of modifications, alterations and exaggerations.

While both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi are all set to face off in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, perhaps the one thing that unites the arch rivals is their knack for picking side-splitting speech translators when in Tamil Nadu. Thangkabalu closely watched Rahul Gandhi as he spoke, perhaps in an attempt to deeply imbibe what his leader was saying, but the translations that came out when he turned to face his own mic evoked memories of BJP leader H Raja. The BJP leader, who translates the Prime Minister’s speeches when the latter is in Tamil Nadu, also provides rib-tickling content for meme-makers and comics.

Sample this: When Rahul Gandhi said, "I had the honour of meeting Kalaignar ji (former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi) on a few occasions," faithful hype man Thangkabalu notched it up to, "I am a man who has received the opportunity to meet Kalaignar several times and I am happy for that."

While the Congress chief was attempting to extol the legacy of the late DMK chief by saying he represented the language and history of the Tamil people, Thangkabalu went bombastic, declaring, "Kalaignar began the development of the Tamil language and the life of the Tamil people. He is inextricably mixed with the growth of Tamil, Tamil Nadu and the feeling of Tamil love."

In an embarrassing faux pas, the ex-MP declared that the meeting was convened under the leadership of alliance partner DMK while it was in fact a public rally of the national party.

Perhaps the best of Thangkabalu’s translations came when he made completely unrelated remarks for Rahul Gandhi’s statements:

Rahul Gandhi: That is precisely why we love the people of Tamil Nadu.

Thangkabalu: That's why we are fighting. We will show our strength at the opportune moment.

Rahul Gandhi: And that is why we respect the people of Tamil Nadu.

Thangkabalu: Narendra Modi is the enemy of the Tamil people.

Twitterati, as ever, had a field day with these hilarious translations:

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