The purpose of the blogs that I am writing on the Modi growth story is to share my view that Modi is taking the people for a ride using hype, marketing, branding, lies and half truths. For example, Gujarat growth during Chimanbhai Patel’s regime was 16.75%, Madhavrao Solanki – 16.29%, Amarsingh Chaudary was 13.64%. They did not hype it as much as Modi is doing with far less growth (9.25% – mid 2012). Modi is a salesman. “India shining” revisited?
To buttress my case, I use statistics and sources which accentuate the point I want to make. I am sure, others can access other data to counter what I am saying and I respect the debate. It is not my case that there is no development in Gujarat, or that Congress is better, or that corruption in lower echelons of government of Gujarat is comparatively lower. I want to put forward my argument that Modi uses the same vote bank politics (no Muslim candidates were fielded in the 2012 elections), vote buying, caste and religion based politics and criminals (Vitthal Radadiya). Can we expect anything drastically different?
I fought against the Emergency and at that time, looked at the BJP as the good guys and voted all my life against the Congress. Now, as I interact with BJP supporters, I have realised that they are the most vicious, hateful, venomous and desperate people without an open mind, nationalism or tolerance. I am really worried about the nation. Suppose Modi does come to power, are these the kind of people that will come to the centre stage?
In spite of the 2002 riots, I had thought that Modi’s development model can be a solution to the problems of the nation. But, as I travelled to Gujarat and met lakhs of farmers and poor people there, I realised that this is not the right development model. The development is oriented towards rich, middle-class, urban people and the myth of “khata bhi nahi, khane deta bhi nahi” needs to be busted, along with the ‘good governance’ myth. This is the reason I am collaborating with Akshay Marathe to write these blogs.
The previous piece on Narendra Modi talked about malnutrition, urban and industry bias, and a non-inclusive growth model. In this article, we want to bring out some parts of Modi that are extremely incongruous with the image he is trying to build of himself: as a leader with a clean image.
CorruptionModi is said to be one of those few politicians who do not have assets characteristic of an average Indian politician. When he filed his nomination papers for the Assembly elections of Gujarat in 2012 from Maninagar, he declared the value of his assets to be slightly over 1 crore rupees. With over 30 per cent candidates in that election being crorepatis, Modi was one of the poorer candidates in the fray. It is entirely possible that on a personal level, the Chief Minister is clean. Also, it must be said here that the lower levels of Gujarat’s government machinery, which comes in contact with the common man, is largely non-corrupt. While all this is true, it is also true that the Government of Gujarat has indulged in highly irregular deals with private companies that resulted in windfall profit for them with the state’s population gaining absolutely nothing from it!
The Modi government has been relatively free from allegations of corruption, so the public perception is that he is non-corrupt. The reason corruption scams in the Modi government are not exposed as much is the nature of the Opposition. The Congress opposition cannot raise a voice as the people who have benefited from the corruption are close to the Congress leadership as well.
BJP-Congress bonhomie in corruption(Note: This information is sourced from the Aam Aadmi Party website, which is based on CAG reports, quoted later in the article.)
Gujarat State petroleum Corporation (GSPC) is an oil and gas exploration company of Gujarat Government. GSPC acquired gas blocks in KG Basin in August 2002. According to government’s own estimates, the gas fields allocated to GSPC were worth $20 billion.
Modi government entered into production sharing agreements with Geo Global and Jubilant Enpro Pvt. Ltd. Modi gave away 10% of participating interest to each of these two companies completely free of cost. In turn, Geo Global was supposed to provide technical assistance. The first question is – how were these two companies identified? According to records, it was not through any competitive bidding. These two companies were arbitrarily chosen and simply given away the participating interests in these gas fields free of cost.
The value of the benefits can be ascertained based on a deal between British Petroleum and Reliance around the same time. The value of this “gift” given by the Modi Government comes out to around Rs 10,000 crores to each of the two companies. What is also important to note is the ownership of these two companies. Geo Global, is owned by a controversial Canadian scientist Jean Paul Roy, on whom the Economic Times had written an article in December last year, in which the paper has raised questions about GSPC, GeoGlobal and Narendra Modi himself.
(Link to the Economic Times article quoted above )
Jubilant Enpro Pvt. Ltd is owned by Shyam Sunder Bhartia, who is husband of Mrs Shobhana Bhartia, Chairperson and Editorial Director of Hindustan Times Group, a pro-Congress media house. Mrs Shobhana Bhartia was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Congress party. She has been known to be extremely close to the Gandhi family. Is it any wonder the Congress has kept mum about this scam in the Modi Government?
When Arvind Kejriwal, Convener of the Aam Aadmi Party had exposed corruption in Haryana (the Robert Vadra dealings), the Govt entity involved had been quick to respond to allegations (although, their refutations were hardly convincing). The problem with Modi is that he doesn’t even acknowledge his detractors. He treats them as if they do not exist. Not just has his Government not responded to the allegations made by AAP, but he has also claimed in his speeches that ‘there isn’t a single allegation of corruption against the Gujarat Government.’ The arrogance and indifference of an elected representative to valid questions is shocking.
Here is an excerpt of a TOI article on the GSPC corruption issue :
The Comptroller and Auditor General reports for 2009-10 and 2010-11, placed before the Gujarat assembly on the last day of the budget session on Friday, tore into the Narendra Modi government on the issue of corruption by pointing out irregularities causing a cumulative loss of nearly Rs 17,000 crore. The villain of the piece turned out to be state-owned public sector undertaking (PSU), Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), which showed irregularities leading to losses of up to Rs 12,400 crore.
The reports slam the handling of finances by the Gujarat government, saying there were regular unspent “excesses” left in all departments over the last four years, and that there were “last minute fund releases and issuance of re-appropriation/surrender orders at the fag end, particularly on the last day of the year”.
What makes Modi just-another-politician is his Government’s Lokayukta Act. The Assembly passed the Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, 2013, which was criticised by all sections of the media and all anti-corruption activists as a weak and ineffective piece of legislation. The Act has certain provisions, which are not just ineffective, but they also encourage corruption.
(Source: TOI article dated 3 April, 2013 )
1. The new law empowers the Modi government to choose its own Lokayukta to inquire against the chief minister and his cabinet. This violates the basic principle of natural justice that no man can choose a judge in his own case.
2. The annual report of the Lokayukta will be laid before the legislative assembly, but shall not be open to debate in the House.
3. The state government has the power to exclude complaints against certain classes of functionaries. That means that by the notification, the chief minister or cabinet can be excluded from the purview of the Lokayukta.
While BJP supported Anna Hazare’s demand for a Jan Lokpal Law in 2011, the Modi Government has been preventing appointment of a Lokayukta in the state for the last ten years!
Dictatorial style of functioningThere are three cases that come to mind when one thinks of Modi’s regime : Haren Pandya, Sanjiv Bhatt and Sanjay Joshi. Haren Pandya, Home Minister of Gujarat during the 2002 riots and Sanjiv Bhatt, an IPS officer, were the two ‘moles’ in Modi’s team who claimed to know exactly what happened at a meeting at Modi’s residence during the 2002 riots. Today, Haren Pandya is dead and Sanjiv Bhatt is being hounded by the Gujarat Government for a case of custodial death that took place in 1990. Sanjay Joshi was the RSS functionary in Gujarat who rivalled Modi’s popularity and clout, back in the 1990s. Today, he has been forced to resign from the National Executive of the BJP and has been sidelined completely.
The fate of these three individuals brings out Modi’s ruthless attitude towards rivals and opposition. The TOI article quoted above also had these lines in it:
With all but four Congress MLAs suspended from the House, there could be no debate on the damning CAG reports. As soon as the house began functioning on Friday, MLAs Rajendrasinh Parmar, Paranjayadityasinhji Parmar, Jodhaji Thakore and Amit Chavda sought discussion on CAG report, which the speaker Ganpar Vasava disallowed.
The quartet rushed to the well carrying banners on CAG. They were suspended, quite predictably, and escorted out by the security staff.
Sanjiv Bhatt, IPS officerBJP MPs keep entering the well of the Parliament to protest the UPA’s disgusting corruption scams. When Congress MLAs do it in the Gujarat Assembly, they are suspended. Not only is this a clear example of double standards, but it is also a sample of Modi’s dictatorial style of functioning. Opposition of any kind is not allowed to survive for long in Modi’s Gujarat. In many ways, he does remind one of the Emergency period Indira Gandhi. In this day and age, it is impossible to overturn democracy as brazenly as Indira Gandhi did in the 1970s, but does Modi have those tendencies? Absolutely.
On the one hand, in Karnataka, Modi talks of the Congress giving Assembly election tickets to criminals and on the other, he welcomes gun-toting MP from Gujarat, Vitthal Radadiya with open arms. How is he any different from the average Indian politician, who says one thing and does another?
On this note, we end Part 2 of our series on the Modi growth model. In the next and final part, we will talk about Modi’s branding campaigns and the complete centralisation of decision-making.
Disclaimer: We have used the Sanjiv Bhatt example only to illustrate how Modi vindictively targets anyone who tries to oppose him. We do not vouch for his statements and nor do we claim he is honest.
I am deeply passionate about India’s politics. It is my dream to transform my country, India, from one of the world’s most corrupt, poor & divided societies into a society that would symbolize transparency & equality in all spheres.