Prime Minister Narendra Modi | Popow/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Prime Minister Narendra Modi | Popow/ullstein bild via Getty Images
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The implosion in CBI adds to a series of events showing Modi no longer sets the agenda.

The embers from the implosion in the Central Bureau of Investigation this week will continue to fall in different directions for some time. They have already fallen on the Prime Minister’s Office, the Enforcement Directorate, the Research & Analysis Wing, the Rafale deal, and so on.

Who’s to tell what further fires these embers might yet cause? It is likely the Modi government will be fire-fighting the CBI implosion for the next few weeks. In the midst of an election season, the timing couldn’t be worse for Modi & Co.

It is not often that a sitting CBI director rebels against the government. It is not often that a top bureaucrat would even dare to revolt against a Prime Minister known to be a strongman. The revolt itself is diminishing for a Prime Minister who came to power striking a contrast against a collapsing UPA-2. Modi was to be the decisive man in control of things, as against the weak Manmohan Singh. Turns out, Modi can have his Manmohan moments too.

Regardless of what the Supreme Court does in response to Alok Verma’s petition, Mr Verma could soon become to this government what CAG Vinod Rai was to UPA-2. Verma has already claimed to be a martyr of political interference, its alleged agent being his junior Rakesh Asthana.


Also read: M.J. Akbar to Kathua: Decoding the silence of Teflon-coated Narendra Modi


Over the past four and a half years, the CBI has brazenly gone after the Modi government’s political opponents. It has done so to heighten the contrast in the public eye between the ‘Corrupt Opposition’ and the ‘No Corruption Government’. With the Rafale controversy and the CBI implosion, the Modi government’s corruption-free image is going the way of Maa Ganga: dirtier than 2014.

Losing the brahmastra

Over the past few weeks and months, the Modi government has been losing its grip over the political narrative. The BJP managed to retain Gujarat with great difficulty in December 2017, but the election did highlight rural distress across the country. While the Modi government has tried to address it, its total control over the headlines is collapsing by the day. Despite having almost every major news channel turn into the government’s propaganda arm, the Modi story is looking weaker by the day.

Or perhaps the downfall began even before Gujarat results, when the impact of demonetisation first showed on GDP numbers in mid-2017.

Six months before the general election, Narendra Modi seems to be losing his brahmastra of occupying headlines and mindspace. One after the other, the top headlines are only showing Modi as a PM no longer in control. We noted how the narrative slipped out of Modi’s hands in April this year; the process seems to continue.

Just consider a few recent headlines. Rising fuel prices and the falling Indian rupee. An RBI report confirming what we all knew about demonetisation. Far-Left activists arrested and made into scapegoats for the real culprits in the Bhima-Koregaon agitation. Farmers tear-gassed at Delhi’s doorstep. Another Gujarati businessman flees the country after an alleged bank fraud, just another Rs 5,000 crore of public money. An infrastructure finance company goes bust with Rs 91,000 crore in debt. Headline after headline suggesting that the government unduly favoured Anil Ambani in Rafale offsets.


Also read: CBI is no longer India’s premier investigation agency, it is a self-destructive monster


The best example of how poor this government has become at political communication was the M.J. Akbar fiasco. The government dilly-dallied over the issue for days, getting flak from the media, even its friendly channels. The government allowed the headlines to be overtaken by M.J. Akbar, brazening it out in a manner that appeared to suggest they didn’t want to appear to be yielding to a few liberals. After sending conflicting signals, suddenly Mr Akbar was out. The handling was so poor they couldn’t even claim to be acting in good faith and take credit for championing women’s rights.

A boring film

For most of Modi’s prime ministership, his main skill has been political communication. For long periods, he has had a nation glued to his speeches, acronyms, ideas, his images, his voice. There has been not much else to show. He has mastered the art of winning elections, and every election victory makes him appear invincible. But now, something has changed. Modi’s showmanship isn’t covering up the chinks anymore.

Modi does something or the other with some app every few days. Now he’s claiming to be the inheritor of Subhas Chandra Bose’s legacy, now he’s projecting surgical strikes as World War III. Now he’s saving Sardar Patel from the Congress ignominy and here he is, posting a fitness challenge video.


Also read: Going, going, gone: How the political narrative has slipped out of Narendra Modi’s hands


But Divert and Rule is no longer working. The show’s been going on for far too long. It’s become a grand Bollywood film high on spectacle and low on substance. Modi’s silences are ringing hollow. Be it Sabarimala row or an encounter in Lucknow, be it a setback in Aadhaar or a crashing stock market – the Prime Minister is no longer part of the national conversation. He isn’t talking about what we are talking about. He’s in his own world, lost somewhere in the comfort zone of the NaMo app.

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20 Comments Share Your Views

20 COMMENTS

  1. Writing an article is word play; an art. Fiction also make good reading if written well. That’s exactly what I’ve to say about this article. These are the desires and perceptions of the author (to which he has a right) seen through his politically biased prism which is far from the truth. Yes, elections are round the corner and there will be a flurry such articles for and against Modi.

  2. I will avoid commenting on the P M ; but I have enough to say about the ex -C M of Gujarat.He is vindictive to the core.He has all types of misdeeds attributed to him.The Income Tax Diaries brought out 40+25 crore payments ,of which the 25 Crore was paid in part only.A Lt Gen (retd) stating that Modi and his team got the 2000 persons murdered in cold blood, is spoken by every body here under the breath .People are scared to speak against the Hindutwa scare created by his team.NO LOKPAL ,NO LOKAYUKTA,NO PROTECTION TO WHISTLE BLOWERS,RTIs being consigned to dust bin.He is a National misfortune.THE CONGRESS IS RESPONSIBLE FOR IT. RAHUL GANDHI IS NOT THE PERSON:THEY HAVE TO CHOOSE SOMEONE ELSE.If Loya case is not enough to open our eyes , then we deserve this type of governance only.What happened to a Video of a girl in then CM’s residence? What happened to enquiries against Anandiben and her family?The list is endless; the less spoken the better it will be. Avoid publishing the name;if possible.

  3. What can Modiji do if the officials betray the government’s will to end corruption..what is the option for Modi now..except transferring the
    officials..It is shocking the IPS officials who receive so much salary and perks are so scheming and corrupt

  4. Stop seeing, showing? the things under magnifying glass. Actually it is a testing time for Modi & his government hopefully comes out with flying colors. Yes there was some mistake happened even there was a slight arrogance in accepting the facts but no mistake in correcting themselves. Unfortunately, the miserable opposition parties especially congress ignoring the National Security & National Interest with heaps of unsubstantiated allegation & claims fall flat on their claim has made even making him strong for eg. see the opposition leader Mallikarjuna Kharge’s statement immediately without proper understanding he rushed to media & stated the CBI Director removed without following proper procedure started to give lecture on set procedures on removal of the CBI Director Blah..Blah… he could not differentiate between removal from the office & asked to proceed on long leave & stripped their power, being in politics for over 40 years & held Ministry position in both & central.

    Here is an NGO of Prashant Bhushan which was filed objections & vehemently opposed on Verma’s appointment in the court, same NGO now rushing to court in his favor. What these people are trying to do just fooling the people. This is how they will loose credibility & faith placed on them & term them as a bunch of Jokers. Tx.

  5. What comes out after all these bizarre happenings is the sad truth that in our beloved motherland, war against corruption is a long, sad story with no end. As May 2019 nears, the rant against NaMo & RaGa is only getting shriller. And, as is our culture, we keep looking yearningly for one single hero to vanquish all dark elements. Not for us to introspect to cleanse ourselves and evolve into a more civilized, less unethical society. Not much reason to hope for better days.
    What a pity !

  6. I believe Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are stute polititians with penchant for catching the public mood and winning elections. If they are unfazed by what is going on means more than what is written in all these articles on CBI and Rafaele.
    Their complecence or confidence make me believe that CVC & CBI are pocketed (we all know that now), why should election commission be any different. A coercive govt is like Alexander… victory at any cost. Alexander never did any thing to the benifit of his conquered territories. He had no opposition that matterred. Many parallels. Only cholera could put Alexander down (nature acted as balancer).
    Hope that EC doesn’t crawl when it needs to run. Hope India develops a spine and rejects incompetents (read Rahul G) and brings out a phenix that rises frim the ashes

  7. The more I see/hear/watch RaGa and his Congressi colleagues rant & whine about NaMo/RSS/Rafale, the more I think of them as a bunch of jokers. NaMo and his team, in contrast, I find are better/smarter strategists. I would prefer to bide my time to see the ultimate outcome. Many sensitive departments of the government need to be seriously shaken up and cleansed from within.I am with the government as long as the institutions being cleansed, emerge stronger as a result. Only NaMo and his government can take such bold steps.

    In the afternoon today, in one of the news channels, Mr. Mallikarjun Kharge was suggesting that the warring officers could have been called for a meeting and explained/pacified. Following similar tactics (dilly dallying and beating around the bush), had led the country towards a state of deep policy paralysis.

    Elections are not too far away. People’s verdict – either for or against, whichever the case may be, will silence everyone.

  8. V can only hope that the fundamentals of the Constitution of Republic of INDIAN UNION is guarded and preserved. V need a team of persons to work in GOV with the beleif “ACCOUNTABILITY exists even after this MORTAL LIFE -says Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism. all leaders shd believe in this. All GOV persons shd follow this.

  9. Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist,Barnala (Punjab)

    Megalomanic, whimsical and impulsive outlook to blame for this pell-mell, Modi is now staring in the face !

    These have not adverse and far reaching ramifications for his own self but for the NATION in the long run too !

    These will ultimately prove to be the Prime Minister NaMo’s HAMARTIA !

    He never never believes in admitting his mistakes and follies not at all learning from the past blunders !

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest, Barnala (Punjab )

  10. Lately, Shekar ji started changing plate by publishing such articles. Shekhar ji, now I understand your dubious role in journalism. Wah SHEKHAR JI. GOD WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU.

  11. You rightly compared situation with Bollywood where a Bahubali is actually an ordinary person with a ratio 1:100 or 1000. He it is 10000000 because with no qualification and additional media support this Bahubali was inflated no limits. The truth is coming out very slowly converting a Hero in Villain. Let it happen fast.

  12. Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist,Barnala (Punjab )

    The years 2013 and 2018 ! What a contrast, both the years symbolise UP ( Shining) and DOWN (Fading) two antonyms of Life !

    Does not the times ( Past and Present) reflect two contrasting tales of then RISING and now SETTING sun of Narendra Modi !

    Who can conquer time beccause no one on this earth has been able to keep constant control over fleeing TIME ! Time is none’s
    slave and has never been so !

    Will NaMo still like and wish to live in fools’ paradise that he is invincible for all the times to come ?

    Will BJP Supremo Amit Shah still assert that BJP will rule the nation for fifty years ?

    It is indeed ironically a true story of “Pride Hath A Fall ” !

    Is it not so ?

    Is it not very ripe and right time to think, introspect and ponder over all this ?

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab)

  13. The article smacks of exactly what most of the public are thinking…that this whole episode of the CBI director is a case of the opposition and some powerful outside forces influencing the CBI director to rake up dust and cause a ruckus about non-existent scam and corruption merely to engage Modi and his cabinet in dousing the firecrackers being lit. Modi is smart enough to read through the malicious schemes and maintain silence. This naturally infuriates the plotters who are growing more and more impatient upon the realization that the malicious schemes and wild allegations have left Modi unfazed. Remember that a person who is honest and has integrity towards the nation can never be tarnished by the muck thrown at him by his detractors. It only highlights the obscenity and viciousness of those hurling accusations. In fact it becomes amusing to see the extent to which the known scammers and breeders of corruption will go to cast stones at the innocent merely to prove there are no exceptions.

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