By Arun Srivastava
While the 140 crores Indians, even those spread across the world, were impatiently awaiting a resilient rebuttal from their prime minister Narendra Modi to the allegations levelled by the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi against him of patronising and promoting corporate giant Gautam Adani, who allegedly indulged in financial irregularities and fraud, Modi, famous for his theatrics, was busy enacting the great comedy show, unfortunately that too on the floor of the Lok Sabha.
It was expected of Modi that he would use the opportunity to steer clear of the charges levelled by Rahul, being quite serious, instead he preferred to resort to his usual style of hurling jibes and jumlas. Rahul has sought to know from PM about his relations with Adani. In fact after the Hindenburg expose, the people around the world, especially Indians were keen to know the truth right from his mouth. Rahul has alleged that Adani sitting in the lap of Modi has amassed huge fortune and become the number three richest businessman in the world.
Instead Modi preferred to take shelter behind his electoral victory to blunt his accusations. Rahul had simply told to have inquired the phenomenon behind the rise of Adani. Shockingly Modi blatantly resorted to rightist strategy to suppress the democratic demand by using majoritarian missile. By doing so he was setting the most dangerous precedent. No doubt peoples’ mandate is a major factor. But once in office it is the democratic norms and ethos that guides and directs the functioning of the government. Modi used his electoral victory to suppress the peoples’ voice.
His non-committal stance nevertheless made it abundantly clear that for him corruption or denial of probity in public life has lost its relevance. The most interesting facet of his reply was he took the entire proceedings humorously and recited the poems of satire poet Kaka Hathrasi and even recounted a few lines of famous Hindi poet Dushyant. This attitude of Modi sent a strong message that he was least bothered of the allegations. His unwillingness to place the facts before the house also manifested that electoral verdict was enough to turn a blind eye to scams and frauds that was being perpetrated by the friends.
Nevertheless his uncaring attitude at some level no doubt endorsed Rahul’s charge that Modi has fashioned the trajectory of Adani. In all fairness Modi could have nipped the crisis in bud by allowing a probe by some agency or through Joint Parliamentary Committee. But he knew that this would be committing Harakiri. The entire scam would be unearthed. The persons involved in the scam would be unmasked.
Just image why Modi did not use this situation to rebut such nonsensical allegations. His one hour speech underlined that what Rahul said has some element of truth; allegations were not baseless. Does his silence reflect that he was not in the position to counter Rahul’s allegation? Amidst enjoying the humour, he evaded to take the people of the country into his trust by revealing the truth. Modi simply took dig at Rahul Gandhi for his speech in the Parliament on February 7 where he had alleged that the government tweaked rules in favour of Adani and said the clause that no one without any prior experience would be involved in the development of airports was done away with.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Modi has thrown the ball into peoples’ court. It was with this in view that Modi went back to the UPA days and counted scams like G2 and Coal. He even tried to convey the message to the people that he has obliged them during his rule by giving gas, power and water. Any individual, even an apolitical person, will find it hard to correlate his jibes against Congress and UPA with the present developments. He simply strived to infatuate the charges of his providing patronage to Adani’s misdeeds.
His observation “More than 3 crore people have got free houses, 9 crore have got free gas connection, 11 crore women have got toilets. 8 crore families have got proper water supply and through Ayushman Bharat Yojana 2 crore families have benefited. How will they trust your lies and abuses,” makes it explicit that he was moving towards the dangerous zone where confrontation with the opposition forces remains the only safe passage for him.
Modi is known for mastering the art of distorting the facts. He alleged that the economy of the country has declined during UPA rule. In order to present himself as the saviour of the common people he even lowered the country’s economic growth rate during the previous Congress-led UPA regime. Modi said India will always remember the decade before 2014 as the lost decade.
It is worth mentioning that recalibrating data of past years using 2011-12 as the base year instead of 2004-05, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) estimated that India’s GDP grew by 8.5 per cent in the financial year 2010-11 (April 2010 to March 2011) and not at 10.3 per cent as previously estimated. Similarly, 9.3 per cent growth rate each in 2005-06 and 2006-07 was lowered to 7.9 per cent and 8.1 per cent respectively, while 7.7 per cent rate was now estimated for 2007-08 instead of 9.8 per cent.
In this context it is worth recalling the observation of former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh; “In the 10 years of UPA-I and II, when I was the PM, our GDP grew at 7.8 per cent on average. This includes the slowdown in the last two years of our government. When the present government took over, they said they would take growth to 8-10 per cent. Modiji so far has led to a growth rate of only 7.3 per cent in the first three years”. He said, Modi had a tendency to exaggerate his future plans. Dr Singh also expressed anguish on some of the past comments made by Modi. “He has often said nothing was done in the 70 years before he became the Prime Minister,” Singh said, listing out how life expectancy that stood at 31 years during independence increased to 71 years, literacy went up from 18 per cent to 76 per cent and India attained self-sufficiency in food. “I wish the PM would find more dignified ways to impress people without resorting to statements that denigrate our country”.
Modi is quite scared of Rahul questioning him. There is no doubt that the Bharat Jodo Yatra has unnerved. Else there was no need for mentioning the incident of Rahul hoisting the national flag in Srinagar, in his speech in parliament. Actually it did not make any sense what he said; “Rahul Gandhi’s unfurled tricolour at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk during the recently concluded Bharat Jodo Yatra. He already did so in January 1992 despite threat from terrorists, and without security.” H said that abuses and allegations towards him will first have to go through crores of citizens. “I have been working for the nation for 25 years, you cannot breach this trust with your lies”.
It was indeed shocking to make out that Modi has no regret for use of the ED, CBI and IT against his political opponents. He said; “Opposition leaders should thank the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for uniting them”. It is beyond comprehension how could a prime minister say so.
Not only the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birlabut law minister Kiren Rijiju cautioned the members against making allegations without evidence after a Congress MP accused the government of favouring industrialist Gautam Adani. The Speaker also said the debate on the President’s address should not be centred around one individual. Birla was well within his right to warn the members. But it is a fact the BJP, when it was in opposition, had raised allegations against the then prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh. At that time the same BJP leaders did not maintain restraint. When the members were raising the questions they must have in possession of evidences. Else they should not have dared. (IPA Service)