PM Modi’s LS speech did nothing to dispel allegations of his govt’s patronage of Gautam Adani

His theatrical style and non-committal stance made it abundantly clear that probity in public life no longer has any importance for him

PM Modi’s LS speech did nothing to dispel allegations of his govt’s patronage of Gautam Adani

Arun Srivastava

While 140 crores Indians, including those spread across the world, were impatiently awaiting a resilient rebuttal from their PM Narendra Modi to the allegations levelled by the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi against him of patronising and promoting corporate honcho Gautam Adani, who allegedly indulged in financial irregularities and fraud, Modi once again chose to resort to theatrics on the floor of the Lok Sabha.

It was expected that Modi would use the opportunity to steer clear of the charges levelled by Rahul, which were quite serious. Instead, he preferred to resort to his usual style of hurling jibes and jumlas.

Rahul sought to know from the 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. Gandhi had alleged that, Adani sitting in the lap of Modi, amassed a huge fortune and become the third richest businessman in the world.

Instead, Modi preferred to take shelter behind his electoral victories to blunt the accusations. Gandhi had simply enquired about the phenomenon behind the rise of Adani. Shockingly, Modi blatantly resorted to a rightist strategy to suppress the democratic demand by using majoritarian arguments. 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.

His non-committal stance 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 that 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 by the allegations. His unwillingness to place the facts before the House also indicated that the electoral verdict was enough for him to turn a blind eye to alleged scams and frauds being perpetrated by the friends of the regime.

His attitude at some level evidently endorsed Rahul’s charge that the Modi govt 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 a Joint Parliamentary Committee.

It is indeed curious why Modi did not use the occasion to rebut the allegations. His one hour speech underlined that what Rahul Gandhi said had some element of truth; that the allegations were not baseless.

Does his silence reflect that he was not in a position to counter Rahul’s allegation?

Modi simply took a dig at Rahul Gandhi for his speech in 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.

Any individual, even an apolitical person, will find it hard to correlate his jibes against the Congress and the UPA govt with the present developments.

Modi is known for mastering the art of distorting the facts. He alleged that the economy of the country had 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 alleged that 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 PM 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”.

Dr Singh had also expressed anguish at 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,” he had said. Modi is apparently quite scared of Rahul questioning him. There is no doubt that the Bharat Jodo Yatra has unnerved the BJP regime.

It was indeed shocking to make out that Modi has no regret for using the ED, CBI and IT to target and intimidate BJP’s political opponents. He said, “Opposition leaders should thank the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for uniting them”. It is beyond comprehension how could a PM say so.

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