How PM Modi skirts question on his Adani-link in Parliament


As the opposition targeted PM Modi in Parliament over alleged links with the notorious Adani group whose offences and frauds are now in public domain, a defiant PM sought to dismiss the charges as a political ploy by opponents who together have failed to get the better of him. ‘‘The entire country has been a witness how one individual has prevailed over so many. They are having to take turns even shouting slogans, but I remain unshakeable in my conviction. I have devoted my life to the country and have set out to do something for it. These practitioners of politics lack the courage to play fair and have, therefore, devised a new tactic against me…he (opposition member) had mud, I had gulal (a red powder used during the festival of Holi), … it is good that the more mud you throw, the more the lotus will bloom. And that’s why I express my gratitude to them for whatever contribution you have made in making the lotus blossom, directly or indirectly’’—this is how PM Modi replied to the allegations. An apt reply no doubt for his sycophants and a few brainwashed to greet with bench-thumping! But to the people at large who have not mortgaged their conscience and logical mindset are indeed amazed, if not bamboozled. How can they digest the fact that the PM of the country chooses to avoid any reference to the specific allegations made and instead beat about the bush and finds solace in self-eulogy. When he was to reply to charges of closeness with Adani, he went on cataloguing claimed achievements of his government and started boasting that unlike Congress governments, which sought to address a problem only when doing so became unavoidable and would not move beyond tokenism, his government has tried to find permanent solutions to challenges. The PM emphasized that his government believed in saturation politics because apart from other achievements, it eliminates the scope for discrimination and discretion. Modi also projected his government as an enterprise that has slogged and persevered against heavy odds, such as finding sources for enough gas for implementation of the ‘Ujala’ LPG connection scheme, to take long-delayed benefits to people. His speech marked one more occasion for his outreach to the tribals, an effort that started with the selection of President Draupadi Murmu. ‘‘People have already taken the resolve. This country is not ready to look back and is poised to take a big leap because we have addressed the problems you had left unsolved; by providing bread to those who lacked food, by creating opportunities for those who had not got one and by providing social justice to those who needed it,’’ he added. Even while listing his ‘iconoclastic’ achievements, he felt no need to substantiate those with facts. Because he knows that facts would prove him parading in utter falsehood and peddling fake claims. He also did not talk about his one more promise of bringing black money from foreign Banks and giving Rs.15 lakhs to each Indian. He kept silent on demonetization and sudden lock down declaration that caused immense misery to the working class all over the country. He did not say that as promised by him, there has been no check on terrorism because of demonetization nor has black money vanished from the system. He never mentioned the unemployment rate has surpassed all previous records in his regime. He did not speak about the deaths of reportedly 40 lakh people from Covid 19 because of lack of minimal healthcare facilities like hospital beds and oxygen cylinders. Nor did he allude to unthinkable misery of 12 crore migrant labourers turned beggars over night because of sudden declaration of covid lockdown and a good number of them—hungry, unfed or half-fed, shelterless, fatigued—dying like street dogs while walking down highways on foot, braving hunger and thirst, the sweltering summer heat, densely forested areas to somehow reach their native homes. Modi spoke of India as the mother of world democracy but suppresses the fall in rank in Democracy, the Index that provides a snapshot of the current state of democracy worldwide for 167 countries. India’s score fell from a peak of 7.92 in 2014 to 6.61 in 2020 and its global ranking slipped from 27th (in 2014) to 53rd. India ranks last in the Environment Performance Index 2022. India has also scored poorly on various measures such as control of corruption, rule of law, and government effectiveness. In hunger Index, India is at 107th position out of 116 countries. What would he call it? Progress or backsliding?
PM Modi said in his speech in Lok Sabha that ‘‘75 years have passed since independence, 8 crore families have got tap water today, how will those mothers accept your lies, your mistakes and abuses?’’ Wops! Survey shows most of the Indians do not get safe drinking tap water from their municipalities. Only 2% Indian households get it. On the contrary, it is estimated that around 37.7 million Indians are affected by water-borne diseases annually; 1.5 million children die of diarrhoea alone and 73 million working days are lost due to water-borne diseases each year, according to a study published in BMC Public Health Journal in May last year. The PM has also said that ‘‘Every middle-class family has a plan in their mind for the future of their children for their higher education. He wants to increase the number of medical colleges, engineering colleges and professional colleges. Seats have been extended. He addresses the aspirations of the middle class very well. He has started believing that his children have a bright future’’. But the National Education Policy brought by his government is aimed at more and more privatization of education thereby making cost of education beyond affordable limit of not only the downtrodden and lower middle class, but even for some upper middle class as well.
Hope you have got a brief account of how the country is prospering in Modi’s rule and how our statesmen can present highly incorrect picture of their performance unfazed. But what remains to be answered? PM’s Adani link. In Modi’s rule, Adani’s wealth recorded a growth of 230%.While eyebrows have been raised everywhere, Modi pretends he is not aware of anything. On the contrary, he is busy blowing his own trumpet with a bunch of irrelevant talks and rigmarole. Modi praised himself by saying that because of action of ‘‘ED, these people (opposition parties) came to one platform and hence the work which the voters of the country could not do’’. It is well known that ED is being recklessly used only against the leaders of the opposition parties to either silence them or compel them to defect to the BJP. His own party colleague, Devendra Phadanvis, admitted the other day that they have pulled the strings from behind to engineer defections from Shiv Sena, and topple the anti-BJP government in Maharashtra.
Buck does not stop here. ‘‘Trust in Modi is not born from newspaper headlines. This trust in Modi has not come from the shining faces on TV …. We have spent for the people of the country; we have spent for the bright future of the country’’—he observed. But as per published report, ‘‘the Centre has spent Rs 6,491.56 crore on advertisements in print and electronic media since the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014, information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur told Lok Sabha on Tuesday. While the government spent Rs 3,260.79 crore on advertising in electronic media, it spent Rs 3,230.77 crore in print media over the eight-year period.’’ (Hindustan Times 14 December 2022).
Every credible voice in the world is optimistic about India’s economic growth, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while inaugurating the Uttar Pradesh Global Investors Summit-2023 in Lucknow on 10 February last where, notably, Gautam Adani, who was instrumental behind organizing ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit for Modi, was not present. Two years back, Modi had boasted that the world is looking at India with greater hope and expectations. Let us see how the world is beating a large kettledrum of India after Adani episode. The Economist, noted magazine, in its article titled ‘‘The parable of Adani’’ clearly said that in Modi’s rule, check and balance among different wings of the state has considerably diminished. Media also has become pliant to the ruling party and Modi. Another article published in the same magazine remarked that ‘‘the humbling of Gautam Adani is a test for India’s capitalism’’. ‘‘Adani offshore investor has links to Adani family’’, has been the headline in World Street Journal. Financial Times, another renowned paper, has been more categorical in choosing its caption, ‘‘Adani affair—the fallout of Modi’s India’’. ‘‘India can’t get Adani affair wrong’’, observed Washington Post. ‘‘Adani downsized’’ has been the headline in Bloomberg. Time, the renowned magazine explained ‘‘what Adani’s downfall tells us about India’s crony capitalism’’ and captioned another write-up as ‘‘Meet Adani, the Indian billionaire-on the nose a bandage stating on a day he losses $100 billion’’. Research paper of Stephen I Wilkinson of Yell university is ‘‘Votes and Violence’’. Kennedy School Review published two articles—‘‘Cow vigilantes and the rise of Hindu nationalism’’ and ‘‘Rising tide of intolerance in Narendra Modi’s India’’. Another overseas publication has come out with the title ‘‘Electoral Competition and ethnic riots in India’’.
To deflect attention from the allegation of his connivance with Adani, Modi inconsequentially targeted the Congress. He referred to a research paper titled ‘‘Rise and decline of India’s Congress Party’’ by Harvard University. He said Harvard researchers are most authentic though he perhaps forgot that when Harvard University criticized demonetization, he himself rubbished Harvard by saying ‘‘Harvard is only bookish in Economics. Hard Workers do not need Harvard’’. But what he did not say is that in 2016, a Harvard researcher had published a paper named ‘‘Rising tide of intolerance in Narendra Modi’s India’’. Thomas Blue Hansen, Reliance Dhirubhai Ambani professor of Anthropology in Stanford University published a paper titled ‘‘Saffron Republic Hindu nationalism and state power of India’’. In this paper published by Cambridge University, it has been mentioned that contemporary Hindutva is an example of democratic authoritarianism or authoritarian populism, a politics that simultaneously violates ideas and practices of popular and constitutional democracy. It also showed how the Delhi police took no action against elected BJP officials who openly incited the violence and instead charged various Muslim community of instigating the violence. Financial Times, the British paper, called Adani ‘‘Modi’s Rockefeller’’. Gudami International PTE, a Singapore based company related to Adani group, was mentioned in two ED chargesheets in 2014 and 2017 in the Augusta Westland scam. This list can go on endlessly.
Our purpose is to show how selective Modi is in picking up research findings to take a dig at its predecessor while remaining absolutely silent about other publications that criticized his wrongdoings and sordid state of affairs in his regime. Some of them have also unfolded the financial offences committed by Adani in connivance with the PM and his government. This is also a part of his clear-cut strategy to divert attention from his Adani connection and find solace in vainglory. But is it that people are so fool as to not understand this ‘hide and sick’ policy to run away from the truth? Moreover, as PM, is he not answerable to the people? Is he not bound by the directives of parliamentary democracy he sings pean in favour of, to provide replies to specific questions raised in Parliament? Does a popular mandate in his favour—assuming it had been so—exempt him from following the codes and norms of parliamentary democracy? No democratic-minded person would say so. Then how can he take the parliament and for that matter, the entire countrymen for a ride by hushing up truth and try to get away with some theatrics and tall talks? Time has come that people raise this pertinent question in right earnest.
(acknowledgement-Times of India and Ravish Kumar Official)

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