Skip to main content

Pinstripe politics and the deadly design: How "fixed match" was played to sell Modi suit

By RK Misra*
Celebrities can raise stakes to sell suits but a feather-light fabric often betrays a deadly design. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pacesetter pinstripe suit may have fetched palpitation-inducing Rs 4.31crore – and it might help cleanse the sinfully polluted River Ganges, as is projected. But those who watched the exercise undertaken to the drumbeats and cymbal sounds over three days in Surat -- the commercial capital of Gujarat -- know for sure it was a fixed match. The suit that cost the BJP the Delhi gaddi, and Modi his sheen, was put under the hammer in a desperate bid to reclaim the remnants of a tattered ego.
Put up along with 400 other gifts received by Modi after taking over as PM, the suit remained the focal point of attraction for the rich and the famous as well as the poor and the bunched. In the fray were textile magnates and diamond merchants and even a school teacher. Was it a mere coincidence that many of these who went around with cheque in hand had figured in income-tax raids and records? “I have been absolved,” said one under media questioning, while the other claimed no misdemeanor was proven.
Nursery school teacher Rajesh Maheshwari, who offered Rs 1.25 crore, claimed to have stitched the bid through a collection of Rs 50,000 from 250 people! The coming events were casting their shadows ahead on media persons’ Whatsapp groups in Gujarat much in advance. That a Rs 5 crore target had been fixed in deference to instructions ‘from above’ was known on Day-2. Gujarati daily Divya Bhaskar carried a pictorial report by its Surat correspondent showing undated, but signed, cheques with amounts filled in, collected in advance by district administration officials.
Correspondents covering the event spoke of CR Patil, Surat-based BJP MP from Navsari, lurking in the background. A once penalised policeman, Patil had worked his way first to a known Modi baiter, late Union textiles minister Kashiram Rana, and then into the good books of Modi. His are the unseen hands that move mountains in Surat, the diamond capital of India where limited year postings in the constabulary go for over Rs 25 lakh and ‘white' is a distant laggard against ‘black money’ racers.

Nitish-Modi tussle had origins in Surat

Interestingly, the last straw that broke the camel’s back in the tussle between Narendra Modi and the then Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar also has its genesis in Surat and the venerable worthy playing a role in it. In June 2010, during the BJP national executive meet in Patna, big advertisements had appeared in Bihar newspapers in praise of the then Gujarat chief minister and his efforts to aid Bihar during the Kosi floods. This led to Kumar cancelling the official dinner being given in honour of the delegates and returning the Rs 5 crore flood aid cheque back to Gujarat. Subsequently, the BJP and the Janata Dal (United) parted company in view of the irreconcilable differences between Modi and Kumar. Ahmedabad-based advertisement representatives of Bihar newspapers had to lengthen their chase to Surat to bag a bit of the revenue largesse.
If the suit auction in Surat formed the core of an image salvage operation, the spanner in the works came from an officer of the Coast Guard picked up by the press in the same city. The officer claimed to have ordered that a Pakistani fishing vessel be blown up in the sea, debunking a government claim that it was a terror mission gone awry, whose target was the Gujarat coast on the eve of the Pravasiya Bhartiya Diwas and Vibrant Gujarat Global Investor Summit held in Gandhinagar.
Perception management is a key component of any brand building exercise. The truth of the fishing vessel explosion notwithstanding, old ghosts continue to haunt politics and politicos. The bulk of the alleged fake encounters in Gujarat took place to neutralize fidayeen terror outfits attempting to assassinate the then Gujarat chief minister. Almost all of them took place around the time Modi was facing a political challenge or crisis of sorts. The pattern persists even in the vessel affair. As a crisis erupted in Bihar and the BJP moved to fish in troubled waters, another distracting development unfolded in Delhi. It was the Modi government’s action against high profile corporate espionage. Another perception management operation at work? Likely.
The correctives have become necessary after the Delhi debacle. This one is seen by some as an attempt at neutralizing the overly corporate-friendly image the Modi government has vis-a-vis the Ambanis, the Adanis and the like. The two action-packed events had media attention riveted, taking the spotlight away from Bihar. In any case, Chief Minister Manjhi threw in the towel before the trial of strength, leaving little space for the BJP to get involved. Those who have watched the vintage Modi-Shah duo at work can easily predict what will follow. After all, in politics, foxes are the ones who have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.
---
*Senior journalist. First published in http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in/

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.