Narendra Modi gave a long ‘exclusive’ interview to the ANI on the first day of 2019, during which he discussed different issues that marred his controversial tenure as the prime minister. In this so-called ‘interview’, which the opposition Congress called another “I, me, mine, myself” session with a toady media outlet, where questions were pre-determined and filtered by the BJP’s propaganda managers, Modi did exactly what he does in all such interviews– self-propaganda and self-appraisal.
During this long staged interview, Narendra Modi focused primarily on praising himself and he blamed the opposition on each issue, including the opposition’s attempt to forge an alliance. An example of Narendra Modi’s self-obsession and self-appraisal can be seen in his statement on the United Grand A
“Therefore, it is going to be Janta versus Gathbandhan. Modi is just a manifestation of public love and blessings.” He shamelessly equates himself with the people and following the pattern of “Indira is India” slogan of Indira Gandhi’s sycophants during the national emergency, Modi is using the “Modi is just a manifestation of public love and blessings”.
Modi’s engagement with the ANI reporter was on what he thinks and not what the reality is or what the common people think. In the following paragraphs we will critically analyse the interview’s major points:
Election Debacle in Three BJP-ruled states
The prime minister was asked twice about BJP’s poll drubbing in the three BJP-ruled states at the end of 2018. On the first occasion, he started babbling over his own government’s achievements and avoided talking about the question.
On the second occasion, when he was specifically asked about the poll results, he asserted that the recent victory of the BJP in the panchayat and local body polls in Assam, Tripura, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir overshadowed its loss in three BJP-ruled states. He said the BJP lost the elections due to anti-incumbency factor but it still managed a good tally, except in Chhattisgarh.
The reality is rather quite different than the rhetoric of Narendra Modi. In Tripura, major opposition parties like the CPI(M), the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, etc. alleged that the BJP and the RSS used extreme violence in the recently-held local body elections and it resulted into many nominations not being filed or even withdrawn when votes were cast.
While the BJP won landslide victory in the Punjabi and Dogra Hindu-dominated regions of Jammu, the majority of the people of Kashmir, even including the mainstream parties, which are pro-New Delhi, like the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party, boycotted the local body polls opposing Narendra Modi’s imposition of president’s rule. Election victory in Kashmir, which Modi is showing as his achievement, is marred in severe controversies and is criticised by democratic forces all over the world.
Labelling these victories secured using brute force, people’s mandate, is not only a mockery of democracy but it’s also an insult for the people, whose honest mandate was to be captured by these billion-rupees-worth election exercises. These farcical elections in the states where the BJP has monopoly on power and state institutions, doesn’t reflect the true mandate of the common people but the frustration of the BJP itself.
The Modi Wave Obsession
By asserting to the interviewer over the presence of a purported Modi Wave, the prime minister tried to show himself as an omnipotent populist ruler of the country, whom the common people are supporting and whose popularity is skyrocketing.
“…That means people are admitting Modi wave…” (sic)
“…I am happy that they accept, there is a word called Modi wave or Modi magic.” (sic)
By stressing over the presence of something like a Modi wave even after his government’s credibility reached the nadir, shows how megalomaniac the prime minister is and that the BJP will fight the 2014 general election by using the cult of Narendra Modi and the halo of his incorruptible invincibility, which it has been promoting since 2013.
On the Demonetisation Exercise
Batting on behalf of the disastrous demonetisation drive Narendra Modi said:
“There used to be regular reports about black money. There is no disputing the fact that a parallel economy was running. Notes were found under beds, sacks full of cash were found. This parallel economy had made the country hollow. Demonetization has done a big job and in the coming days will set the country on the solid economic path. Those sacks full of cash have now entered the banking structure.”(sic)
The prime minister is denying the fact that black money in the form of ‘sack full of cash’ is a filmy myth that has no real existence in the 21st century. Plus, he is silent over his claim on the fateful evening of 8 November 2016– that the menace of black money will end forever following the demonetisation drive. During the demonetisation drive, Narendra Modi also asserted that problems like terrorism, militancy, etc. will end and the ill-gotten wealth of the unscrupulous rich will be ruined, regarding which he didn’t utter a word in the interview.
What’s the outcome on these fronts? How much success did the government achieve regarding drying the funds of terrorists or ruining the fortunes of those who have amassed wealth through nefarious practices? Does he remember that his own government offered a back channel black money whitening scheme, which was even cheaper than the black market rate of 50 per cent commission?
When 99 per cent of the cash returned to the system what amount of black money was exterminated? Which rich and super-rich became severely poor due to demonetisation? Which of the rich unscrupulous ‘black money holder’, the enemy of the nation, died standing in the ATM queues? Didn’t the BJP clear the way for unaccounted corporate donation to political parties without any ceiling soon after the demonetisation exercise? Didn’t the BJP leaders get hold of currency notes in new denominations much before the demonetisation exercise was declared? How did such things happen? Who would answer these questions if not the prime minister?
Clarifying that the demonetisation drive wasn’t a sudden shock, Narendra Modi clarified:
“We had warned people a year in advance that we have a scheme wherein if you have such wealth (black money), you can deposit it, pay the penalties and you will be helped out. However, they thought that Modi too would behave like other governments so very few people came forward voluntarily.
Through the media and Parliament I beseeched people to take advantage of this scheme or else we (GoI) would have to take steps to change the situation. This hasn’t happened overnight. This process took one year…Only after that we had to take this step. This was necessary for the economic health of this country.” (sic)
Then who are these ‘people’? The common people whose economy runs on cash, the poor farmers, daily wage earners, small traders, toiled people and the millions of poor, who might have been saving their cash at home for exigencies, didn’t know about any warning. No one warned them ever; no official communication reached them from the PMO or the government. Then why the prime minister is saying on record that his government warned the ‘people’? Who are the ‘people’ for the prime minister and his party? Is he talking about Adanis and Ambanis? The crony-comprador capitalists who got the news much before the hapless poor of the country according to the statement of BJP’s Rajasthan leader. Are they the ‘people’ for Modi?
Maybe these ‘people’ are those ‘people’ about whom Modi was saying that the 2019 general election will be between the united opposition and the ‘people’. Maybe these are ‘people’ who knew about the demonetisation drive as accused by People’s Review in 2016. It’s true that these ‘people’, unlike the people, will have their unwavering support intact for the BJP and the narcissist prime minister.
On the ‘Art of Leaving’ India by the Crony-Comprador Capitalists
Narendra Modi, while commenting on the fleeing of big corporate sharks from India without repaying loans taken from the ailing public sector banks, said:
“Why did they need to flee after all. Had there been governments like earlier, same dostana would have continued, lootna hai, looto; khana hai, khate chalo, … They would have no need to flee. They had to flee because they would have to adhere to the laws here. They had to return every penny.
Those who have fled, there are international laws to bring them back. Those are being implemented. For such fugitives, we have made stringent laws. Seizure of property is happening even in foreign countries. Therefore, we are using all tools available with the government.
I am confident, that those who have fled the country earlier, they have not returned. But those who fled during this government, they will be brought back, today or tomorrow. Diplomatic channels, legal courses and seizure of properties through legal means are being implemented. Those who have stolen India’s money, they will have to compensate for each and every penny.” (sic)
Mr Modi said that those who looted Indian people’s money fled because otherwise they would have been forced to return every penny they stole but he didn’t say how they could manage to flee if his government happens to be so strict? He didn’t say why a fugitive economic offender like Nirav Modi was found photographing with him during one of his foreign trips? Is Modi helping such fugitives to flee the country? What about his own finance minister meeting another economic offender Vijay Mallya just before the latter’s escape from India? Are these incidents purely coincidental or do they have some sort of political equation underneath?
While talking about bringing back the absconders, which will take long legal battles in foreign courts, Narendra Modi didn’t specify any timeline. Neither did he talk about the lucrative deals that the government is offering as face-saving exercise to have the non-important small fishes back to India. Even he didn’t tell us which properties of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi or Vijay Mallya did his government seize so far and how much money such seizure helped in recovering.
It’s merely rhetoric and future tenses, promising another version of ‘better days’ — the mirage his party and he himself used during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, which Narendra Modi is dolling out as a bait, once more, to cajole the common people in believing that his government is taking tough action against the offenders of economic crimes and corrupt people.
The GST Fiasco
Dismissing the allegations of economic mismanagement through the hurried implementation of the GST, Narendra Modi blamed the Congress for it. He said his government took up the GST Bill, which was originally planned by Pranab Mukherjee during his tenure as the finance minister.
“Since Pranab Mukherjee was Finance Minister, the GST process has been going on. In Parliament, unanimously it was passed. Before GST, what was tax rate in the country? 30-40 % tax. And hidden tax. Repeated tax. GST has simplified all this. 500 items have zero tax, which at one time incurred high taxes. Last few days, tax rates on 1200-1250 items of daily use have been brought down, some to 18%, to 12 to 5 % and in some cases to zero. We keep doing because we take feedback. There is Samvad. Decisions are taken in GST Council that has all governments, UTs and Centre. All have equal positions. Puducherry and GoI are both equal. Congress governments also. In Parliament, unanimously it was passed. Are they abusing own party leaders and party governments?
Just creating a political hue and cry is not good. GST is a new system… such a big transformation, technology driven. Some small traders have faced inconvenience, we acknowledge this. But government’s responsibility is to be sensitive to their concerns. So, whatever comes to our notice, are referred to the GST Council. We decided collectively how to simplify.
We wanted to take a decision that those traders who are in the Rs. 20 Lakh range and incur a tax liability, that should be increased to 75 lakh and give them some relief. We couldn’t do this in the GST council meet, states have some reservations so it has gone to committee. Once committee reaches a decision it will benefit a number of people.
Similarly, under construction houses and finished houses, GST, like we did for restaurants, everything under 5 per cent. We wanted to do that. But there were reservations by some. So GST council could not do it. It has now gone to the committee. We will try to ensure that the committee report is expedited.
So, continuously, we have been trying to make GST easy and benefits of consumers are secured. In such short time, in such a big nation, whatever achievement is not small. Despite such diversities in such a big country, there is scope for improvement. We will continue to make changes.” (sic)
Now if the prime minister claims that the GST is a Congress creation, then he and his party must stop taking credit for it. Rather, they should tell the traders, especially the small traders whose business got affected due to the GST rollout that they must blame the Congress and not his government for the fiasco.
Moreover, how can the prime minister justify the equality in the taxes on commodities throughout the country when there is no income equality? How can a person living and earning a livelihood in Tezpur of Assam or Bhadrak in Odisha pay an equal amount of tax on commodities or services like someone living and earning in Mumbai from the same profession? When the income of individuals living in two different regions or two parts of the same state happens to be different in the same profession, then how logical it’s to force them to shell out an equal amount of tax for same goods and services?
Even the respite that the prime minister is talking about, comes at a time when the BJP suffered a severe poll drubbing and is in a dire need to hoodwink the voters before the 2019 general election. As the GST council is empowered to lower taxes, it can also hike taxes to throw small and medium enterprises and traders out of the market and allow the big corporate sharks to engulf markets and establish their oligopoly in India.
The Middle-class Issues
Narendra Modi spoke a lot about his government’s dealing with the middle-class’ problems. He said:
“For middle class, we will have to change our thinking…Inflation, we have brought it to 2-3% where once it touched 18%, the biggest benefit goes to the middle class…
Udaan Yojna, for Rs. 2500 flights can be taken. Similar examples in Railways. Ayushman Bharat may seem that only the poor get insurance up to Rs. 5 Lakh but indirectly, hospitals and other employment generation will happen and the direct beneficiaries would be the middle class.
Mudra Yojna’s 15 crore loans, biggest beneficiary is middle class. If the middle class wanted a loan to build a house they never got relief from banks but after demonetization, loans for middle class is up to Rs. 20 Lakh then they will get relief for 5 years leading to 5-6 Lakh in savings.
A start up eco system has been promoted which is being driven by the middle class. There are a number of such examples.” (sic)
Narendra Modi’s declaration on inflation has a great flaw, it didn’t take into consideration the constantly rising fuel prices, which is even hurting the middle-class, apart from the poor.
More than 600,000 middle-class people are thrown into the abyss of poverty every year due to out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure and it can’t be remedied through the health insurance schemes that have capping and hidden terms and conditions that bar the patients from availing treatment without shelling out more money. The constantly falling contribution to public health has placed the middle-class at the mercy of big corporate healthcare providers, whose promoters also own the health insurance companies. Unless the public expenditure on health is increased, the middle-class will be thrown to
Talking about the Mudra Yojana, the prime minister forgot the figures shown by his detractor and former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha. Only loans worth few thousand rupees were rolled out under the Mudra on an average, and even ‘pakoda stalls’, Modi’s model of self-employment, can’t be setup with such meagre amount.
His rhetoric on start-ups and entrepreneurship failed to mention how many start-ups have shut down in the last four years and how many of them are struggling to even manage their basic daily expenses. The government has been providing absolutely no assistance to the start-ups and job creation is absolutely in a pathetic condition as more unemployed people are entering the job market every year and very few are getting jobs. According to the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, while 30,000 unemployed people enter the job market every day, only 450 manage to get employment. The prime minister’s evasion of the promise made by him in 2014, of providing 100 million jobs in five years at 20 million a year rate, is another example of his shameless escapism from facts that are harsh and critical.
On the Farmers’ Debt and Loan Waivers
Narendra Modi called Rahul Gandhi’s loan waiver policies “lollipop”; he strongly opposed the idea and called for a comprehensive solution to the vicious cycle of debts the farmers are thrown into.
“What is lacking in our system, that farmer becomes debt-ridden and the governments have to repeat vicious cycle of elections and loan waivers.
So solution is to empower the farmers. From seed to market, give all facilities to the farmers. A 100 schemes in cold storage for the farmer we have started again. Why does farmer have debt? We should make a situation that he should not need loan. If Swaminathan Commission report had been implemented in 2007, there would have been no need for loans. Instead of doing that they found avenues to win elections.
There is a very small segment of farmers who take loans from banks. A majority of them take loans from money lenders. When governments make such announcements, those farmers do not become beneficiaries of the waivers. The farmers who are dying are out of the purview of such schemes. So these are political stunts.
Still if state governments are doing it, we are not stop”. (sic)
Now it’s a very good question- What is lacking in our system, that farmer becomes debt-ridden? Well, we can call it the remnants of feudalism, or the semi-feudal economy in the rural areas under which the rural elites have ownership of land and the poor, who are mostly from marginalised communities, have to either work on those fields or have very small land in their possession.
Who owns most of the land? The feudal landlords, the rich farmers and rural usurers own much of the land. Who are these people? They are the landed aristocrats and the feudal classes from upper-castes of the Hindu society, and unsurprisingly they happen to be BJP’s core vote bank in most of the states.
If the ‘empowerment’ of farmers and the tillers of the soil could happen through seeds, technology and market connectivity, then that would have had transformed rural India long back. Actually these measures are cosmetic hogwash that hoodwink the majority of the farmers and only benefit the creamy section of the rural elites, feudal landlords and rich farmers. Even the Modi government didn’t implement the Swaminathan Commission Report in its true spirit, rather only cheated the farmers by paying 50 per cent over the MSP using A2+FL prices and not the comprehensive C2 cost.
The real problem of Indian agriculture lies in uneven agricultural landholding, which can be changed only by a revolutionary land reform programme and by uprooting the feudal power structure in the rural areas that begets Brahminical supremacy as well. Only by overthrowing the feudal leeches, the enemies of the Indian people and the buttressers of casteism, the farmers can be freed and their fortune can be changed. It’s infantile to wish Narendra Modi’s government do anything close to this type of revolutionary activity, which even the Congress or the parliamentary left will desist from doing.
Still, the BJP could’ve at least freed the debt-ridden farmers from the burden through some measures during the past 55 months and except for rhetoric and some deceptive campaigns over hiked MSP, crop insurance and doubling of farmers’ income, the government of Modi did nothing noteworthy for the agriculture sector from which the majority of Indians earn their livelihood.
On Babri Masjid Dispute
Talking about the election issue of Ram Temple at the spot of the demolished Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Narendra Modi tried to pull the emotive tug that fetched the BJP a lot of votes since the last 30 years.
“I beseech the Congress, for national peace and amity, that they should stop its lawyers from stalling this in the court, not create obstacles, and all lawyers, those Congress ones, should together head to the court and ensure that there is early judicial verdict .
In court, Congress lawyers, who are creating obstacles, should stop. Let the judicial process take its own course. Don’t weigh it in political terms. Let the judicial process be over. After the judicial process is over, whatever be our responsibility as government, we are ready to make all efforts.”(sic)
Which “national peace and amity” will be disturbed over the Ayodhya issue? Is Narendra Modi threatening subtly about another massive anti-Muslim pogrom if the court orders the reconstruction of the Babri Masjid at the very place where it stood? What “all efforts” Narendra Modi has in mind after the judicial process gets “over”? Is he declaring that the BJP will establish a Ram Temple at the very spot irrespective of the court’s order or is he and the RSS, which directed the BJP to hype the Ram Temple issue intensely during the 2019 general election, sure about the outcome of the Supreme Court’s verdict?
Why the BJP is planning about an ordinance on the Ram Temple
On Mob Lynchings by Cow Vigilante Terrorists
Alike past instances, Narendra Modi condemned the incidents of mob lynchings but with a Hindutva warning, sub-layered in his answer to the question.
“…What Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave used to say, the sentiments reflected in the Constitution. It is the responsibility of every citizen to respect those sentiments. If you honour those sentiments, our sentiments are also respected.To create this environment, everybody should contribute…” (sic)
“India should take pride that we have been living in harmony for ages.There should be no such incident in the society. But we should understand what the main fabric of the society is.” (sic)
Talking about Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave, both of who were ardent Brahminical in their approach, the prime minister wasn’t delivering a sermon of peace or asking the cow vigilante terrorists of the RSS to adopt liberal and secular outlook, he was cunningly addressing the Muslims and telling them to follow the ‘cow ethics’ followed by Gandhi and Bhave.
The “…if you honour those sentiments, our sentiments are also respected. To create this environment, everybody should contribute” statement wasn’t for the cow vigilante terrorists but for the Muslims, calling them to respect the so-called majoritarian sentiment, which has no clear description except for the diktat– don’t eat cows.
Even if the Muslims ferry cattle for dairy trade or keep bovine animals for farming, they are susceptible of being lynched by the Hindutva-incensed feral mob and the prime minister’s cruel sermon to the Muslims to “honour those sentiments” clearly show on whose side his constitutional position is. It’s unlikely that the victims of such mob violence will ever get any justice under his reign due to the unapologetic bias his regime has shown towards the Muslims so far.
When he said: “But we should understand what the main fabric of the society is.” he left the onus of ending this mindless violence on the Muslim community itself and asked it to understand the fabric of the society, which according to the Sangh’s doctrine is Hindu. The bottomline of the message is, Muslims are lynched for their own fault and they are the one who should rectify themselves to stop these series of organised vigilante terrorism in the name of cow.
Rafale Jet Scam
Hitting out at the Congress, Narendra Modi vouched for his honesty and said that the Rafale Jet deal involves no scam because the Supreme Court rejected a plea to investigate the matter. Though the apex court’s rejection was of a plea to constitute an investigation, it didn’t, in real, conclude that there was no scam in the Rafale Jet deal.
Modi kept babbling about his honesty and didn’t give any reason on why:
- The original deal of 126 Rafale Jets was changed and only 36 ordered?
- Why the deal was changed without calling for another global tender?
- Why the deal was made without any formal government guaranty?
- Why the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, which was supposed to make more than 100 jets in its own facility under a technology-transfer from Dassault Aviation, was removed from the deal and Anil Ambani’s novice firm Reliance Defence Ltd was introduced to maintain the 36 jets at a location for which the company had no land at the time of signing the contract?
- Why the Defence Ministry was kept in dark about this sudden change in the plan?
- What criteria did Anil Ambani fulfil to suddenly become a part of this deal and to get his marketing done by Narendra Modi?
- Why the price of the Rafale Jets increased manifold in the new deal?
The Prospering of NDA Allies
Narendra Modi, taking a jibe at the parties that join the Congress-led alliance, said:
“We are different. Those who associate with us, they prosper. So our effort remains that our allies blossom.”
While Modi and the RSS talk about serving the nation, how could a political party “prosper” by becoming their ally? Is this Narendra Modi’s attempt to lure
Summary of Narendra Modi’s Exclusive Interview:
Modi loves limelight and ever since becoming the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001, he had managed the media through his acumen. Even after being criticised for his role in abetting the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002, Narendra Modi maintained an aggressive media and PR strategy to counter the criticisms.
In this process, he has reared a battalion of toady bootlicker scribes who would eulogise him unquestionably in return of crumbs thrown at them. When he reached New Delhi as the prime minister in 2014, he created this courtier media culture on a national scale albeit he maintains an ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘anti-Lutyens Delhi’ image like his toady journalists.
The big corporations that enjoyed the warmth of Modi’s appeasement during his tenure as the chief minister, portrayed him as the poster boy of India’s reform engine before the 2014 general election through their media outlets and many of them featured him and his takes on the failures of the Manmohan Singh-led UPA II government.
However, soon after winning the 2014 election with a landslide margin, Narendra Modi cocooned himself from the press and never attended any press conference or provided any interview unless they were done by his new toady bootlickers like Arnab Goswami of Republic, Navika Kumar and Rahul Shivshankar of the Times Now or RSS’ sycophant Sudhir Chaudhary of Zee News.
As the BJP is facing electoral setback and the opposition has successfully dented the hallo of invincibility of brand Modi created by the Sangh Parivar, then it becomes quite problematic for the entire Hindutva camp to see the prime minister not coming out in open and braving the questions of the press. Even though the mainstream media houses have already lost their spine and won’t bother the government much, Narendra Modi’s anti-Lutyen Delhi and anti-establishment image
Afraid of real and inconvenient questions, Narendra Modi has successfully managed scripted question and answer sessions so far, where each question would actually be an eulogy. The sycophants will ask such questions that give the prime minister enough opportunity to pat his own back. Since becoming the prime minister, Narendra Modi ensured that he only takes place in such events where interactions are scripted.
All questions and answers are prepared beforehand and the prime minister only answers what he had practiced during the rehearsal. As most of such questions are praises heaped on him by bootlickers by adding a question mark at the end, it never becomes too hard for him to answer them. Thus the fauxe passe, when a BJP member from Puducherry asked him a real question over the condition of the middle-class, revealed how real questions can get him speechless.
Narendra Modi faced real challenges during his tenure as the chief minister when some of the daring journalists questioned him. His run-away from Karan Thapar’s interview in 2007, when he was visibly nervous and couldn’t answer the straightforward questions, remain a spectacular piece of evidence of his discomfort with critical journalists who doesn’t sing paeans to him. Modi also had to cancel a question and answer session jointly organised by Facebook and Madhu Trehan during the run up to the 2014 general election campaign out of the fear of inconvenient questions coming from the audience that could expose his own intellectual bankruptcy.
The ANI recently got a scripted interview done with the Dassault Aviation CEO over the Rafale Jet scam allegations, where the CEO of the company kept clarifying that no scam took place in the procurement of the jets and the renewed deal is a win-win thing for both parties. Now the same agency managed to do exactly what the prime minister likes, carry out an extremely scripted interview that would become another propaganda weapon for the BJP as the party can now claim that the prime minister is confident enough to face the press, except the fact that it’s press of his own choice.
Meeting the press and answering their questions, unfiltered and even the most inconvenient questions, is a matter of choice for a politician, however, for anyone holding a constitutional position for which they are drawing salary from the public exchequer, answering the country about their own performance is not a matter of choice but compulsion. They simply can’t deny the people answers to the questions and they are not above criticism.
As the people have no channel to ask questions and criticise the government directly, the independent and critical press does the same on their behalf, and Narendra Modi, who is chosen by the people to rule on their behalf, can’t ignore the press and run a monologue with the public through his radio programme and scripted interview shows. He needs to answer and he can’t evade that responsibility by playing the ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘anti-Lutyens Delhi‘
An avid reader and a merciless political analyst. When not writing then either reading something, debating something or sipping espresso with a dash of cream. Street photographer. Tweets as @la_muckraker