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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 15, April 8, 2023

Concerned about his image, Modi’s ways of improving it! | Faraz Ahmad

Saturday 8 April 2023, by Faraz Ahmad


Saheb is concerned about his image. Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated the other day, “they have given out a supari (contract) to sully my image.” But who are They and what remedy has the Prime Minister in mind to repair his image? Pursue the Opposition further, “don’t stop, spare no one” Modi told the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) to mark the diamond jubilee celebrations of the CBI, whom not so long ago the Supreme Court had described as a ‘caged parrot.”

Of course, that remark the Supreme Court made about the CBI in connection with the alleged 2G scam whereby the BJP-led Opposition brought down the UPA government of Dr Manmohan Singh and jailed the then Telecom Minister A. Raja of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK). Never mind that after years of trial, the CBI court found neither any evidence nor any substance in the charge of a scam in distribution of 2G spectrum by the UPA Minister. But the same Supreme Court looked the other side when the Modi government transferred out the CBI Director Alok Verma at 2 am in pitch darkness, to save their favourite Rakesh Asthana who kept going places and the charge of his complicity in alleged scams spread across the seas, was quietly buried. No caged parrot now, no image tarnishing of Modi and his government, was caused by such an act of wilfully saving and promoting an officer of doubtful integrity!

In the purchase of Dassault Rafael fighter jets, the Prime Minister signed off a deal with the French company to buy just 36 for the price of 126 fighter planes decided earlier by his predecessor, for obliging his friend Anil Ambani as the Indian partner in the manufacture fighter planes, despite no prior experience in this field. The world was talking about this. But the Prime Minister never once felt any dent in his image! Perhaps because the Supreme Court accepted the Government defence in a “sealed” envelope and closed the case without so much as reading the contents. On retirement the then Chief Justice was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, with all the attending perks and presumably fat double pensions—one as a retired Supreme Court judge and the other as a retired Rajya Sabha member when his term ends. But not a spot on our dear Prime Minister’s?

The year 2023 began with the Hindenburg report on how Adani companies manipulated and overvalued their shares in the stock market and how the Adanis managed all this because of Gautam Adani’s alleged proximity to the Prime Minister. All the Prime Minister’s men debunked the Hindenburg disclosures as an international conspiracy to sully the Prime Minister’s spot-clean Prime image.

The Opposition suggested setting up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to separate the wheat from the chaff. The Opposition is still on its legs raising this demand, which would restore the Prime Minister’s image if tarnished at all. But the Government would have none of this. The demand itself, believe ‘All the Prime Minister’s men’ amounts to throwing ink on the Prime Minister’s Tinopal white kurta.

There are so many corruption skeletons tumbling out of the Karnataka BJP on the eve of the Assembly elections. A former minister in the BJP government of Karnataka K.S. Eshwarappa resigned last year after a contractor committed suicide leaving a note behind accusing the minister of demanding a huge bribe, beyond his paying capacity to clear pending bills. Thereafter the Karnataka Contractors’ Association accused the state ministers of demanding 40 percent commission for awarding contracts and clearing their bills. About the same time Lingayat leader Dingaleshwara of Balehosur Mutt alleged that the state government officials sought 30 percent commission for releasing funds for the Mutt. So much for being saviours of Hinduism and Lingayats. Then there was the allegation of scam in export of molasses by the Basvaraj Bommai government. But the Prime Minister directed the CBI to pursue his political rivals.

On the one hand Union Home Minister Amit Shah was promising a “corruption-free government” if BJP were voted back to power. About the same time BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa whose son was caught by the Lok Ayukta for taking a bribe and thereafter cash worth crores was seized from the MLA’s premises, was jailed after the Karnataka High Court rejected his bail and the BJP MLA had to go to jail. Remember how just a few months back our Home Minister had condemned Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma and his government as the most corrupt. But soon as the results were out the BJP with just two MLAs wasted no time to join the same “corrupt” government and the Prime Minister personally attended the “swearing-in” ceremony of this “most corrupt” chief minister. No CBI, no ED, and no income tax would pursue Sangma or his ministers because they have emerged spotless white from the BJP washing machine.

So how does the Prime Minister and his team of eminent educationists decide to enhance his image? By ensuring that our university students should not see the BBC documentary which highlights how Modi behaved like Nero when Gujarat was burning in 2002 while he was the chief minister of the state. He seems to have gone up in esteem of the Gujaratis, if we analyse the results of the December 2002 assembly election results. And those who still ran the documentary on their mobile screens were punished and penalised by university administrations.

But if he is a victim of Opposition calumny, why not set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) and not a Supreme Court-appointed committee, which may meet the same fate as similar committees of the apex court on CAA or the farmers’ strike? After all the BJP has an overwhelming majority in both Houses of Parliament, so the final report of the committee cannot but go in Modi’s favour.

However, his alma mater the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has come up with better ways to improve Modi and his government’s image—by deleting from NCERT-prepared school textbooks crucial references to Mahatma Gandhi— that he was particularly disliked by those who wanted Hindus to take revenge or who wanted India to become a country for Hindus, just as Pakistan was for Muslms….His steadfast pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists so much that they made several attempts to assassinate Gandhiji. “Also that Gandhiji’s assassin Nathuram Godse was a Pune Brahmin, is considered by Modi’s government making tall claims of social justice so disturbing that too has been deleted from class 12 textbooks, by the Modi regime.

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