Narendra Modi's incorruptibility: what WikiLeaks cable actually said

What next after ‘Julian Assange endorsement’, a Facebook ‘like’ from Obama?

ashishm

Ashish Mehta | March 20, 2014



File photo

Way back in 2007, when few saw a future for Narendra Modi as bright as it has turned out to be now, he used a funny one-liner in the assembly election campaign: Hun khato nathi ane khava deto nathi (neither do I eat – that is, take bribes – nor do I let anyone else do so). Everywhere you saw, there were posters and hoardings with his photo and this slogan.

Unlike claims made during poll campaigns go, this was a credible one. At least, the only opposition around, the Congress, had no way of countering it. Amarsinh Chowdhary, a former chief minister who was the leader of opposition in the eventful year of 2002, used to say in public at the time that Modi is not corrupt – of course, the late politician used to say so in the tone of ‘there are hundred things wrong with this man, with only one exception’.

Manoharsinh Jadeja, a Congress politician from Rajkot, would repeat the same party line to a US diplomat in 2006, the conversation would be captured in a confidential diplomatic memo, and the memo would be leaked by WikiLeaks. Thus, in March 2011, when The Hindu published the ‘India Cables’, the headline highlighted Modi’s “incorruptibility”.

Who was saying this? Modi on his blog thought it was coming from the US itself. “Wikileaks cables are accurate. I am glad to learn that America admits Modi is incorruptible,” he said, according to his blog [read it here].

But that was back then. In the current campaign, some fan of Modi in the party wanted to remind the voters of the great leader’s virtues, and thus came the tweet that nobody less than the ultimate whistleblower, Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, himself says that Modi is incorruptible. “America fears Modi because they know Modi is incorruptible” runs the line in the tweet with a picture of Assange and what looks like his signature. This led to a minor farce, with the international organisation tweeting that Assange had never said anything like that. To which, BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s response was that the party does not need a certificate from Assange.

He didn’t explain, however, why Modi bragged about it back then.

Like everything else in politics, there are two ways to respond to the WikiLeaks content, and that depends on who you are rooting for. When the content is in favour of your favourite leader, you can say that now even the US or WikiLeaks (or the actual source of information) says so. That is the Modi scenario.
When the content is risky, you can say that it is baseless, and merely a perception. That is the Arun Jaitley scenario. The BJP leader was quoted as terming Hindu nationalism as what everybody outside the Sangh Parivar seems to know – an opportunistic issue.

But before responding in one way or the other, it would also make sense to read through the whole cable and not just what the apparently “secular” Hindu newspaper put in its reports. Here is the stuff from the cable that for some reason did not make it to “incorruptible Modi” report published in the Hindu [the original here, courtesy the Hindu again:]

“He has successfully cultivated the image of a clean politician who has reduced corruption in public life in Gujarat. Views differ on how clean and non-corrupt Modi actually is, however.” Thus, the endorsement, dear reader, is not coming from the US, WikiLeaks, Assange or the Congress. This is Modi endorsing Modi.
Yet, “All our interlocutors acknowledge that Modi is a modest man who, unlike many elected officials in India, has not used his position to enrich himself or his family. Most contacts also say that he has purged the state administration of petty corruption at the mid- and lower levels of the bureaucracy. However, several people tell us that big ticket corruption is still common.”

Now comes the meaty party, which has (or lacks) as much truth value as ‘Modi-is-incorruptible’ line: “Journalist Javed Rahmatullah claimed that Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) paid a large bribe for permission to expand its refinery in Jamnagar. The money went into the BJP's party coffers, Rahmatullah claimed, and not to Modi or any other individual. Other contacts have told us that business money flows to the BJP in Gujarat, but nobody had been this specific. We have been unable to verify Rahmatullah's claim.”

If we wait a bit, some fan may soon tweet: Modi is incorruptible, says Mukesh Ambani.

Comments

 

Other News

NTPC adds highest ever capacity; records highest single day generation

  With commissioning of 800 MW unit at Kudgi in Karnataka, 250 MW unit at Bongaigaon in Assam and 20 MW at Bhadla solar in Rajasthan, the total installed capacity of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) group has reached to 49,943 MW.   The 12th plan cap

Why do we need Aadhaar?

 Aadhaar is arguably one of the most convoluted public policy interventions in India’s history. It has been more than eight years, yet there is little clarity on the exact purpose of the biometric-based unique identification project.  Let me take you through an event which I witne

AAI signs MoU with Daman and Diu admin for maintenance of Diu airport

The airports authority of India (AAI), a Miniratna PSU, has undertaken operation, development and maintenance of Diu airport from Diu administration.    A memorandum of understanding demonstrating the responsibilities was inked on March 20 between the union terri

PSU performance: Better than expected

Central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) have done quite well despite facing headwinds, according to the Public Enterprises Survey (2015-16) that was tabled in parliament on March 21. The net worth of all the CPSEs have gone up and the overall net profit has zoomed. Their contribution to the cen

National Health Policy: Old prescription, new date

After much discussion and pondering over for more than two years, the cabinet has approved a new National Health Policy, scrapping the old one which was formulated in 2002. The government aims to increase the public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP by 2025. The policy formulated in 2002 aimed

It’s traumatic, says African student

  “We have requested more security from the government of India and the Uttar Pradesh government,” said Abdou Ibrahim, senior adviser, Association of African Students (AASI)  following an attack on four students from Africa in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. &n

Video

यूपी में नकल करने वालों की अब खैर नहीं

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter