December 13, 2019
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The Lone Strafer

Lalit Modi’s bombs blow up reputations everyday

The Lone Strafer
P. Lashkari
The Lone Strafer
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

L’affaire LaMo

  • Ex-interpol chief says there is no blue corner notice issued by the UPA government against Lalit Modi
  • Arun Jaitley says there is a “light blue corner notice” issued by the directorate of revenue intelligence
  • MEA tells Outlook that there was no request for extradition of Lalit Modi by the Enforcement Directorate

***

In World War II, the Germans developed something called the sprengbombe dickwandig aka the ‘cluster bomb’, which with its number of explosions over a wider area posed risks to all in its vicinity—and some even far beyond. Some two weeks ago, and for whatever reason, a human cluster bomb called Lalit Kumar Modi was set off by someone.

Its first big blast hit external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on June 7. And on a nightly basis since then, various sub-bombs let off by LaMo have affected civilians across the divide. Raj­asthan CM Vasundhara Raje one day, her MP-son Dushyant Singh the next. UPA finance minister P. Chid­am­baram one day, his BJP successor Arun Jaitley the next. Ex-BCCI chief N. Srinivasan one day, IPL commissioner Rajeev Shukla the next. The Times of India boss Vineet Jain one day, Bombay top cop Rakesh Maria the next.

Even the office of the president was not spared: Pranab Mukherjee was mentioned one day, his trusted aide Omita Paul was linked with hawala operator Vivek Nagpal the next.

Two weeks after it all began, there are still no casualties. Not yet anyway, despite nightly harangues from the televangelists. But the battleground is splattered with the blood of reputations. As the founder of India’s coziest, sleaziest club himself busts the party, firing on all cylinders—TV, Twitter, Instagram, and his website lalitmodi.com—it is not a pretty sight. Everyone is naked in this hamaam.

Now why a ‘decisive leader’ like Nar­endra Modi would allow this spectacle to go on and on, when it is so clearly damaging his government’s reputation for action, no one knows. But the LaMo bomb has offered Indians, only just recovering from the silence and inaction of the Manmohan Singh era, an early insight into what it is likely to be for the next four years. Home minister Rajnath Singh offered this blase rationale at a cabinet briefing: “Our ministers do not do all that their ministers used to do. Our ministers do not have to resign.”

In other words, this is NDA, not UPA. Act­ually, even staunch BJP supporters watching the unceasing tamasha would be hard put to make out the difference between the two today. As the Lalit Modi fusillade intensifies and changes shape every hour, revealing details ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, it is clear that finance minister Arun Jaitley will have plenty to explain when he ret­urns from his 10-day trip to the United States, if not to the country, at least to Prime Minister Modi.

  • Did Jaitley really meet LaMo alone at the St James Court hotel in London?
  • How much did Jaitley as a ddca and BCCI functionary know of LaMo’s deals?
  • What precisely did Jaitley’s ministry do to turn the screws on LaMo’s “crimes”?
  • Were PSUs pressured to sponsor the hockey league of which Mrs Jaitley is lawyer?

Admittedly, much of what Lalit Modi is now unleashing on an unsuspecting nation borders on the libellous and is not relevant to the case. And burning his bri­dges with parties and politicians and institutions certainly does not make it any easier for him to ret­urn to India or to face the music of the authorities who are supposedly behind him. If there is a method to this madness, it is not particularly clear yet.

The response of the bjp—spokesman G.V.L. Narasimha Rao calls him a “victim”, former home secretary-turned-Bihar-MP R.K. Singh calls him a “bhagoda” (fugitive)—shows how the cluster bomb has hit different people in different camps differently. In the tightly controlled BJP, it takes some doing for an MP to step out of line and speak his mind. So is R.K. Singh reading the PM’s mind and speaking out? Is he speaking on behalf of a section of the party? Is trouble not yet over for the beleaguered Union minister and the chief minister?

The BJP has ruled out resignations, but ahead of a Parliament session, Lalit Modi has gifted the Opposition a real carrot. By leaking information that it will issue income-tax notices to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case (for which they have to pay tax on Rs 1,300 crore), the ruling dispensation might be trying to get the Congress to step off the pedal. But from the Left to AAP, a cluster bomb has united a dismembered opposition. And they are smelling blood even before the land acquisition bill comes up.

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