October 28, 2014

The Black Money Fiasco

... The BJP has made a laughing stock of itself.

The higher they rise, the harder they fall. Narendra Modi’s crack communication strategy, which served him so well in the past few years and hyped and exaggerated his achievements in Gujarat to an extraordinary degree before the 2014 Lok Sabha election, suddenly seems to have deserted him.

Like Karna, his government cannot seem to recall the crucial mantras when it needs them most. With the black money fiasco, the government, so cocky and hubristic till the other day, has made a laughing stock of itself.

By taking over the black money case from the Finance Ministry and saying it will directly monitor the investigations, the Supreme Court has expressed a deep lack of confidence in the Modi regime. This has only confirmed that the government was not and is not serious about unearthing the truth about illegal funds lying abroad.

Note the government’s actions in the past few days. It began by mimicking its predecessor, the discredited UPA government, and refusing to release the names shared by foreign governments and agencies. Its excuse was exactly that of the previous government, an excuse the BJP had pooh-poohed while in opposition.

Then it said it would “leak” names, following that it said it would “share” some names. What finally appeared were three names of inconsequential businesspersons – with very little money in their bank accounts.Between the Congress and the BJP, the black money account-holders have been given ample time to withdraw their money and park it elsewhere.

Meanwhile the government began leaking names of rival politicians to “friendly journalists”, again following the very skulduggery and cloak-and-dagger use of the media that Modi had criticised with such venom and mocked as part of the so-called “Delhi culture”. Had the Supreme Court not come down so hard, in the coming weeks, more names would have been “revealed” to more “elite journalists” and “pseudo-secular news channels”. And chargesheets and convictions, or actual return of black money (promised in 100 days)? You thought the BJP was serious?

Read the feedback on Twitter. Modi’s biggest backers are cursing his government. What a communication and perception mess. And so quickly.

Derek O’Brien
Member of Parliament
Chief Whip in the Rajya Sabha and National Spokesperson, Trinamool Congress