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Hyderabad: The meticulously constructed ‘pure as white’ image that Prime Minister Narendra Modi donned for the past eight years seems all set to crumble with several skeletons smacking of favouritism towards the Ambani and Adani Groups tumbling out of the cupboard now.

What is striking is that Modi’s foreign jaunts, touted by the ruling BJP as diplomatic victories that pole-vaulted India into global centre-stage, had a pattern that saw the two mega business groups bagging major overseas contracts in countries that the Prime Minister visited. The chinks in Modi’s armour surfaced with a high ranking Sri Lankan official, deposing before a Parliamentary committee, alleged that there was pressure from Modi to award a renewable energy project in Mannar province of the country to the Adani Group. The video clip of the official’s deposition went viral setting the Internet Highway ablaze with Netizens slamming the Prime Minister for his silence, and wondering if the Modi scams would be bigger and deeper than the Bofors scam. “Is #ModiSriLankaScam not sufficient to ask Modi to step down? Why is there no investigation?” an angry Netizen asked.

Expectedly, considering the seriousness of the allegations, Twitterati went on overdrive on Wednesday not only demanding that Modi own up his mistake and resign from the Prime Minister’s post, but also sought serious investigation into the ‘misdeeds.’ Hashtags ‘#ModiMustResign and #StepDownModi’ trended nationally for more than four hours with #ModiMustResign recording over 45,000 posts and mentions.

After the Sri Lankan episode and the Australian coal imports issue, again involving the Adani group, went public, Netizens dug deep into Modi’s various overseas visits and pointed out instances of the Prime Minister’s alleged misuse of his office and position in calling favours to benefit the Adani Group. They saw the emergence of a striking pattern in many of Modi’s foreign visits, pointing out that foreign governments struck deals with either the Adani Group or Ambani’s Reliance Group shortly after the Prime Minister’s visit.

Scores of Netizens observed that the Prime Minister’s visits to various countries since he came to power in 2014 were inexplicably tied with one or the other business family landing major business contracts in countries that he visited. Many of them believe that the Supreme Court should take suo moto cognizance of the allegations and order a probe into all the foreign visits of Modi.

What begs investigation is the circumstances under which these two business groups invariably landed lucrative business projects. For example, during the Prime Minister’s visit to Australia in November of 2014, the Adani Group bagged a 200 km narrow-gauge rail project from the Australian government. Similarly, both the Reliance Group and the Adani Group secured approvals from the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) for setting up power plants with an investment of $ 4.5 billion. The deal was struck during Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in June, 2015.

Also questionable are the three visits that Modi made to Japan in quick succession – in August and September of 2014 and again in November, 2016. Not surprisingly, the Adani Group, in July, 2018, signed an agreement with Japanese firm NYK Auto Logistics to float a joint venture to run automobile freight trains.

The Prime Minister visited Russia in July and December of 2015, following which the Reliance Group announced its deal with Almaz-Antey which specialises in air defence systems in December, 2015. Following Modi’s visit to Russia again in May-June of 2017 and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in October, 2018, the deal was finalised on October 6, 2018.

Soon after Narendra Modi visited the US in June, 2016, the Reliance Group announced bagging a contract from the US Navy to repair warships that was finally signed in February 2017. The award of this contract surprised many given the fact that the US has several experienced companies in this area operation while the Reliance Group had none in this specific area.

In November, 2015, Modi visited Malaysia following which the Adani Group bagged a port project that fructified in April, 2017.

Can all these business deals involving the Ambanis and Adanis be dismissed as sheer coincidence or does it call for an impartial investigation? It is Modi’s call to come clean with a probe or face the growing public anger that may well reflect in the ballot box!



Author: Howard Caldwell