Crony Capitalist Nexus Between NaMo Government and LaMo

The UPA Government lost credibility and earned people’s anger for the series of scams stemming from its crony capitalist nexus with corporations. Within a year of the Modi Government, it has become apparent that the Modi Government and BJP are deeply mired in the same crony capitalist nexus. The mutually beneficial relationship between Gautam Adani and Narendra Modi has always indicated this. And now further evidence is available in the form of revelations that BJP leaders and Modi Government Ministers have worked to help IPL scamster Lalit Modi evade the law in India.

It was the Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in her earlier term, who had helped Lalit Modi get a foothold in the BCCI via the Rajasthan Cricket Association. She had done so by passing an ordinance that tweaked the rules to deny voting rights to powerful rival members, and by supporting Modi’s candidature in spite of his criminal conviction in a US court for drug possession, kidnapping and assault. The RCA coup paved the way for Lalit Modi’s journey to become BCCI Vice President and then IPL Chief.

After being implicated in multiple charges of corruption in the IPL scam, Lalit Modi fled to the UK. In 2011, the Enforcement Directorate got his passport revoked and issued a blue-corner notice against him, requiring foreign law enforcement agencies to detain and deport him back to India to face questioning and trial. In 2014, the Delhi High Court restored Modi’s passport citing that the ED had presented inadequate materials to justify revocation of the passport. Significantly, the ED under the Modi Government’s Finance Ministry, and the MEA, did not challenge the Delhi HC order.

It now emerges that Sushma Swaraj, when she held the Constitutional post of leader of the Opposition in Parliament, sought his help to secure admission for her nephew in a UK University. Her husband and daughter are Lalit Modi’s lawyers. As Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj intervened to help Modi secure travel documents to allow him to leave the UK for Portugal. Swaraj now claims this was a ‘humanitarian’ gesture that allowed Modi to be with his wife for cancer treatment in a Portugal hospital. If that was the case, why did she not stipulate a specific period for which travel permission be granted? Why did she make no effort to get Modi to return to India to face justice? Lalit Modi is now holidaying in Montenegro, brazenly mocking the Indian investigative and legal process. Sushma Swaraj’s ‘humanitarian’ relationship with scamster Lalit Modi is similar to her ‘blessings’ to the scam-tainted Bellary brothers in the past.

It also emerges that Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, when she was leader of the Opposition in the Rajasthan Assembly in 2011, gave testimony backing Lalit Modi’s bid to get a permit to stay in the UK. She did so “on the strict condition that my assistance will not become known to the Indian authority.” The testimony explicitly relies on Raje’s weight as a leader of Opposition, a leader of the BJP and a member of a prominent political family with links in both Congress and BJP. This means that Raje used her clout in a Constitutional post to assist a fugitive from Indian law – carefully seeking to hide this assistance from Indian authorities.

Raje’s Rajasthan Government also signed an MoU with the Portugal hospital where Lalit Modi’s wife was treated, a couple of months after her surgery. Moreover her Government had helped Lalit Modi acquire heritage monuments at throwaway prices, and Lalit Modi had given a Rs 11 crore to a company owned by Raje’s son Dushyant Singh.

The manner in which BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje and the Modi Government helped a scam-tainted person evade Indian law and live freely in foreign countries, mocks the BJP’s, RSS’ and Narendra Modi’s claims of probity and patriotism.

Corruption does not simply involve an exchange of bribes or money. The deep, mutually beneficial links between political leaders, parties and Governments, and corporations are the very essence of cronyism and corruption. The lack of enthusiasm of the Enforcement Directorate under the Modi Government for pursuing cases of corruption against Adani, Ambani or Lalit Modi; the decision to bail out Mukesh Ambani’s loss-making Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Limited by rescheduling its repayment of loans to public sector banks from 2019-20 to 2030-31; and the ED’s recent decision to drop a Rs 1000 crore case of money laundering against Baba Ramdev, are instances of the Government’s special favours to corporations that have close relationships with the Government and with BJP leaders.

Narendra Modi has recently claimed that the country was ‘scam India’ until he took over the reigns as Prime Minister. Why is Narendra Modi silent now on the manner in which the MEA and Finance Ministry as well as a prominent leader of his party have all helped the scam-accused Lalit Modi evade the Indian legal system?

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