Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the arrest sets off a reverse-trend where an elected government might be seen countering opposition on the charges of corruption for the first time.
Just at the time when Congress had got the much-required ammunition against the Modi government in the form of PNB fraud case, the CBI arrested P Chidambaram’s son Karti under ongoing probe in INX Media case probe. The arrest and its highlighted coverage in media has once again put the opposition on backfoot on corruption plank. More than that, the development shifts the debate of corruption under Modi’s watch to that took place under Congress’ rule. Following the arrest was a big slugfest between Congress and the BJP leaders. Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the arrest sets off a reverse-trend where an elected government might be seen countering opposition on the charges of corruption for the first time.
Not just election 2019, the arrest also gives an ammo to Centre which it may use in counter the kind of pressure created by the Opposition in Parliament session. In the last session, Modi government saw opposition cornering PM Modi over alleged secrecy in Rafale deal. This time too, a number of bills including Muslim Women’s (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 related to triple talaq, the Codes of Wages Bill, 2017, Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education, 2017 are that are scheduled to be tabled for discussion and passage.
The developments like these are now very significant as both BJP and Congress are trying corner each other on the charge of corruption. For the first time, Congress appeared to have attacking Modi, with party chief Rahul Gandhi referring to Nirav Modi as ‘chota Modi’. In fact, the Nirav Modi PNB scam had become Rahul Gandhi’s third biggest point of attack after the charges he put on BJP President Amit Shah’s son and the repeated reference of BH Loya. This pro-activism too started only last year when the two issues were highlighted by him repeatedly.
Before that, it was Congress which was always under attack despite being voted out of power. Initially, it was AgustaWestland which hounded Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, followed by National Herald where Rahul Gandhi and a host of Congress leader were named. During all this time, PM Narendra Modi remained very vocal on the how the Congress allegedly looted the nation. PM’s demonetisation too ended up helping the government as BJP was effectively able to portray scheme’s criticism as Congress’ sympathetic-to-corruption approach.
However, this was dented a bit after A Raja and Kanimojhi were acquitted in 2G scam – BJP’s top plank against the Congress before and after 2014 General Elections. Here again, Congress was not able to score much over BJP. Earlier, Congress’ lethargic approach was seen at the time when Vyapam scam broke out in Madhya Pradesh. As a result, Modi stands today as a leader free of any corruption blot under his watch.
Interestingly, the ruling National Democratic Alliance seems to be the first government in history which is entering the election with all other major Opposition parties facing corruption. Not only Congress, parties critical of BJP – BSP, TMC, RJD, AAP are facing different corruption allegations. The pattern in which these parties are facing corruption charges sets the stage for an honest prime minister vs corrupt opposition plank before 2019 Lok Sabha elections.