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France to Chidambaram – PM Modi now has almost complete control over all levers of power

As the Congress party flails at home, the Modi-Amit Shah duo is consolidating power at home and abroad.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ongoing visits to France and UAE are thank you calls to President Emmanuel Macron and President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan for standing by India and not allowing the Kashmir story to become internationalised – at least so far.

So, Modi flew all the way to Paris over Wednesday-Thursday for a mere 18 hours to hear Macron tell the world that Kashmir was a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan – even as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s told the New York Times that he isn’t interested in any more conversations with India, that means he fell right into Modi’s trap.

Flying out

Modi is currently in Abu Dhabi for his third visit, where he will receive the Order of Zayed award. UAE was not only the first Arab country to declare the abrogation of Article 370 an internal matter of India, but the Sheikh’s close friendship with Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is likely to help tell the rest of the Arab world to zip their mouths on the Kashmir question – at least for the time being.

Modi is leading the charge on Kashmir – he flies back to France on 25 August to meet his G-7 partners, including Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and perhaps, Angela Merkel – while external affairs minister S. Jaishankar used his travels in the neighbourhood to tell Bangladesh and Nepal that they should stay away from Kashmir. (They agreed.)

Also read: This is why PM Modi doesn’t really care about internationalisation of Kashmir issue

Handling things back home

Modi’s other message to the international community is equally important: Don’t set too much store with the Congress-led opposition in India, they are going to jail, one at a time. Even the smartest and brightest of them all, the former finance-home minister P. Chidambaram, has feet of clay.

So, as the Congress party flails at home, the Modi-Amit Shah duo is consolidating power at home and abroad. The CBI is expanding the ambit of its charges against Chidambaram to include the alleged corruption around the Aircel-Maxis investment, while the BJP’s clear message to the opposition is that “since you can’t fight us, join us.” As many as 101 opposition members across the political spectrum have done exactly that since Modi took over in his second term.

But Modi also realises that he is walking a fine line on Kashmir and it is up to him to prevent it from becoming a big screaming story in newspapers abroad. So, no foreign journalists are being allowed to go to Kashmir anymore; it was always difficult for the foreign press to get permission anyway, but this has now completely stopped.

More importantly, Modi knows it will be difficult to flaunt the “world’s largest democracy” tag, that democracies will be weighed by different standards than dictatorships if the situation in Kashmir isn’t eased sooner than later. Which is what J&K chief secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam and his team are now focusing on doing.

That’s because couched in all the statements of support by the big powers is this line: Kashmir is a bilateral issue to be resolved between India and Pakistan, in accordance with the wishes of the people.

Also read: Imran Khan was right. Modi did resolve the Kashmir issue once and for all: Reham Khan

Modi also knows that opinion is divided over the presidential order abrogating Article 370 and dissolving Jammu and Kashmir to transform it into a Union Territory – even if Amit Shah successfully argued that Parliament was fully equipped to speak for the people of J&K during President’s Rule – and that several petitions are in the offing in the Supreme Court.

Then there is the matter of politicians being under house arrest. When will they be released? Do they speak for the people of J&K even when the assembly is in suspended animation? Do they represent the “wishes of the people” of J&K? And if they do, how can they do that if they are under house arrest?

Modi must keep in mind that Macron also said that France will be attentive to human rights in Kashmir.

That’s why the two-pronged Modi strategy to disarm the international community with a variety of carrots (buy 36 Rafale jets from the French and perhaps a few more) and sticks, in conjunction with attempting to ease the curfew in J&K is so important.

That’s also why the phrase, “in accordance with the wishes of the people”, remains key and even Macron has no option but to use it with Modi – “the people’s rights should be protected”, he said, as he balanced his comments, adding that no third party should incite violence in the region.

Also read: What separates Modi’s NDA from Manmohan Singh’s UPA – Chidambaram’s arrest

Complete control of levers

Meanwhile, the US and the UK are on the same page, notwithstanding Donald Trump’s many statements in as many days, and so are the other non-permanent members of the UN Security Council these days, like Germany.

Modi will surely win the West’s heart on the Kashmir issue – but he hasn’t won it yet. That’s probably why he took a break in the UAE for a day or two; it’s always nice to be celebrated by rulers happy to give up Dawood Ibrahim aide Farooq Takla as well as economic offenders like Deepak Talwar and Christian Michel, the latter in exchange for the Dubai princess who fled to India last year.

Meanwhile, as he flies back to Biarritz, France, to participate in the G-7 meetings as an observer, the CBI and Enforcement Directorate will rub Chidambaram’s nose in the ground.

This week is proof, if proof was needed, that Modi’s control over the levers of power is almost complete.

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  1. The western world needs money and jobs. As long as India can buy things from these governments, Modi can get away with anything. Human Rights is a nice word to listen but it is a relative words. Some has more rights than the other.

  2. ”Even the smartest and brightest of them all, the former finance-home minister P. Chidambaram, has feet of clay.” Many Journalists also have feet of clay and many journos were, and still are, for sale given the right amount of money. Some prominent names came up in the Augusta Westland case to modify public opinion. Amit Shah is sorting the NDTV first. Then he will look into others. He has enough time in his hand. He will be the Home Minister till 2029 at least.

  3. Jyoti seems to be going from bad to worse. She is hoping for people to create trouble in the valley so that she can gleefully confirm I told you so! Jyoti, India does not intend to anything which will affect rights of the people and in fact, this action of Modi Shah is to give them their full rights under our constitution. We need to manage the anti India terrorism for which various restrictions are required for the time being. Why should Modi not thank UAE and France who stood with India? He should in fact go all over and thank everyone who supported us. What is managed by him is a great achievement for a country who lived under fear of UNSC all the time. What happens in future is always in the future and we will cross the bridge at right time. Remember Modi hai to Mumkin hai!!

  4. Ms malhotra should read about the great chanakya(kautilya) he went about creating a great empire ….gr8 civilazations have withered away in the sand of time..we are the oldest and are still going on strong…opinions..pov’s might differ but what matters is the core belief..
    “bharat” is on the threshold of becoming a great nation again….its time has come…and modi is just a strong catalyst in it..
    (“sama..dama.. danda ,bheda”)….as the saying goes…
    All these countries live in glass houses….nobody is a champion of freedom democracy..human rights etc..they all have huge chinks in their armour..
    they know it is unwise to throw stones at others..some times certain “words” have to be added along with “sentences” to satisfy their own little lobbies and groups (and to feel somewhat good)…..but at the end… at the high table..eveything is about big business(money)..and if india can leverage this aspect then wt is wrong about it?
    Wt i dont understand is….trying to run a person down and making “abstract” fun…is not the way to run a counter viewpoint..u keep wasting ur time in this..while he is miles ahead wt his actions and narratives..(that is also the main reason as to the failure of the entire opposition…and for a strong india a strong opposition is important)
    As a seasoned and experienced journalist u should b able to see the bigger picture..the higher cause ..and the greater certain actions taken recently….
    Lastly ..out of the four lions..(there are 3 lions that are visible) in our official emblem of the GOI (the ashoka emblem)…which symbolize courage,pride,cofidence and “power”
    The 4th lion …which is never visible..well.. what u r seeing now is probably .. the power of that “fourth” (non-visible) lion bieng exerted..which i believe is for a greater good and for a higher cause…

  5. Jyoti, You made the Indian PM meeting French counter part pretty simple. Our PM went there to just tell about Kashmir. if global relations are so simple one minute affair, possibly everybody would have been happy. You think, you can write a crap and everyone will agree with you. Recently I was able to see your fixed interview with Chidambaram, who was literally asking you to get out of his room if you ask him anything about his corruption deals and he said you breached his trust, which means you have already agreed that certain questions cannot be asked. He literally bullied you while answering and I expected a better respect for journalists from policians, no matter who he was.

  6. Iran’s Supreme Leader has tweeted in solidarity with the noble people of Kashmir, noting his country’s traditional friendship with India. The increased tensions between India and Pakistan and the situation in the Valley are on the world’s mind, whatever may be our aversion to internationalisation of the Kashmir issue. Diplomatic capital is being expended to sell our point of view. Felt happy to read that the Indian Ambassador visited the NYT. There is a whole wide world outside our echo chamber.

    • When I fret over the economy, the concern is not only about the Sensex. Saw a clip about children in Yogiji’s UP’s Mirzapur district having a nutritious midday meal in school. The menu alternates between roti with salt, and rice with salt. The rest of the world knows how things are. We do not sway them with soaring rhetoric.

      • I guess that happened in west Bengal too(salt-roti stuff). Oh sorry I forgot WB is not your jurisdiction.

      • ashok JI’s echo chamber is the jewel in crown of comments. But then as they say कुएँ का मेंढक!…!!!

      • Gopal you momentous dimwit! Why compare the growth rates of our country and the developed world. We can’t feel satisfied with our growth journey till the last Indian lives with economic dignity. Is the fact that more than 20 crore people live in abject poverty not imoortant? Isn’t the fact that UK has a per capital income more than 12 times the average Indian not imoortant. Keep your saffron cap and your bhakti aside for a moment and smell the coffee.

        • Ajay – with due respect, the per capita income difference is a weak argument. We are talking about a country that’s the birthplace of industrial revolution, a former imperial power, mostly homogenous, with less federal complexity compared to India, and virtually zero-corruption bureaucracy.. Yes, we can accuse Yogi after 3-4 years of his inability to transform UP (an endeavour in which he will certainly fail) but on the whole, India is entwined with global economy. Unfortunately (and I am blaming no one), we put all our eggs in the IT-BPO services basket and ignored large-scale manufacturing, not to even mention innovation in high-end engineering.

        • This is because indians have kept middle East religions in their backyard unlike Chinese. Homegenise India under only India based cultures with forward direction, then see how growth increases.

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