By Sushil Kutty
We are in the Ides of March. And like Caesar’s wife, all holders of top positions in India should be above suspicion. Shouldn’t that apply to the Prime Minister of India? It’s a thought. Why should anybody get a free pass, spared the rigmarole that applies to every Indian citizen, just because he/she can claim privilege by dint of his/her position?
Fact is, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with his alleged links to industrialist Gautam Adani, cannot claim privilege and place himself above suspicion. Adani, whose wealth has been deserting him like the proverbial rat from the sinking ship, is under a cloud. And Adani has cast a shadow on Narendra Modi and, truth be told, on the Modi government itself.
Gautam Adani was allegedly up to hanky-panky; fixing deals which forced him out of the shell companies, and into the open. He has to be investigated. But for glaringly obvious reasons he isn’t being investigated. Adani is being given all the time in the world to cover his tracks.
It’s a shame, but if Delhi’s just-resigned Education Minister Manish Sisodia must be squeaky clean, without a shadow darkening the brow, then Modi too should be above suspicion. The Prime Minister’s post cannot be a shield. Just like Manish Sisodia has to face the inquisition, so should Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Both are equal before the law. Modi should not forget his Gujarat Chief Minister days when he submitted himself to due process and went through the grind like any other law-abiding Indian citizen. Then, before 2014, Chief Minister Narendra Modi emerged from the probe clean as a whistle. Today, after the BBC’s two-part documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’, which has put the focus back on Modi by painting him in shades of mottled grey, Modi has a credibility problem linked to Hindenburg Research’s Adani revelations.
Did Modi’s powerful position give the Gautam Adani industrial complex undue benefits? It isn’t a secret that prima facie it looks like Gautam Adani had been making hay since the time Modi’s sun started shining; i.e., since 2014. Nearly nine years later, Modi should rightly be up for questioning, but isn’t. Not even a friendly joust with cross-eyed journalists!
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allergy to face journalists in what’s called a presser or a press conference is one of the 10 most cowardly and wondrous things in the world. There was the time when a BBC journalist made Modi walkout in a huff!
The fact is, today’s Prime Minister of India is beyond scrutiny. And the pliable media covers up for the Prime Minister. Covers up for his lack of transparency. Covers up for the omissions and commissions of the Modi government. Covers up the fact that most Modi ministers are unknown faces even after 8/5 years, strangers actually!
There should be an inquiry, but not because most of the ministers are faceless with almost nil name-recognition, but because there’s something called getting to the bottom of things and it’s about time the people of India got to the bottom of many things concerning India under Modi’s watch.
For far too long the Modi government has been left to its devices, unquestioned and under no obligation to come clean on many things roiling the running of the government. The Modi government has turned authoritarian and nobody to rein it in, especially when it comes to the misuse of central investigative agencies.
It is time to take action. In fact, “there is a valid ground for a legal coalition of the top 10 parties going to the court and raising the issue,” said Abhishek Manu Singhvi, national spokesman of the Congress and these days lawyer for Manish Sisodia. Singhvi’s ‘legal coalition’ refers to the coming together of the political parties targeted by central investigative agencies let loose on the Opposition by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Singhvi mooted this idea at the recent Congress plenary held in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. He hoped opposition parties will take the proposal seriously and not dismiss it summarily as most politicians are prone to. However, it is hard to believe that opposition parties will drop all their differences and, in a show of singular solidarity, approach the Supreme Court in a “legal coalition” to put a stop to the Modi government’s misuse of central investigative agencies like the CBI and ED.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the Congress plenary that it would be easier to get the opposition parties into a “legal coalition” against the Modi government than get them into a “political coalition” to take on the BJP in direct one-on-one fights in each of the 542 parliamentary constituencies.
That is true, too. The political ambitions of Opposition leaders have kept the BJP in high spirits whenever India elected its central government in recent times. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes unchallenged every time, all the non BJP parties are the victims of the IT, CBI and ED. The ‘legal coalition’ of the aggrieved political parties can make the political unity much easier before 2024 Lok Sabha elections. (IPA Service)