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Updated Sep 13, 2023, 1:06pm EDT
South Asia

Modi and Meloni are the Indian internet’s favorite new couple

A meme of Meloni and Modi coupled together as Melodi
Screenshot via Twitter/@AamirManhet
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The News

Meet “Melodi.”

That’s the couple name given to Indian and Italian prime ministers Narendra Modi and Giorgia Meloni, whose apparent chemistry and rapport at the G20 summit over the weekend generated a flood of memes on Indian social media.

Across Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit, users shared videos of Modi and Meloni interacting at the summit in India, which were edited to make the two nationalist leaders seem like a couple. Some have millions of views and hundreds of thousands of likes on Instagram.

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Know More

Some clips of Modi greeting Meloni were overlaid with Bollywood movie songs and captions like, “When you finally meet your crush.”

One contrasted their cheerful interaction to an old clip of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel dodging Modi’s handshake.

Another video crafted a love triangle between Modi, Meloni, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in which Meloni cheats on Modi and he gets revenge by working out and doing yoga.

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Indian media claimed that the Meloni-Modi chemistry ”set the internet on fire.”

The videos largely appeared to be joke, but some users seemed to sincerely support the duo. (For what it’s worth, Meloni has a child with her partner. Modi got married when he was 18, but left his wife shortly afterwards and didn’t publicly disclose the estranged marriage for decades.)

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Step Back

There are geopolitical undercurrents to the “Melodi” partnership. Modi is a hard-right leader who has faced criticism over his Hindu nationalist beliefs and a backsliding of democratic norms in India. Meloni has pursued a far-right agenda as Italy’s prime minister and has downplayed the country’s fascist history. Like Modi, she is known for her populist appeal.

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They announced a formal strategic partnership between their nations in March, and at the time Meloni called Modi the “most loved” world leader.

They also held bilateral talks at G20 over the weekend, and Meloni suggested that Italy could leave the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s signature infrastructure and investment pact. Meanwhile, Italy was announced as a partner on the new India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, which is co-chaired by Modi and could counter the BRI.

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