[dropcap]S[/dropcap]hould a man be punished for insisting that he wants to return money he owes to banks? Vijay Mallya says he’s got the dough to pay for overdrafts; that he wants to clear the narrative that he “stole money” and the Modi government says nothing doing! And why link him to the extradition of Christian Michel, adds the fugitive and the Modi government weighs the perception. If the UK magistrate’s court says “extradite Mallya” on December 10, it will be victory No.2 for a Prime Minister desperate to win the perception battle.
Rafale and ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ are building up to a crescendo a la ‘Ab Ki Baar…’ in 2014 and it’s not music for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ears. Michel was extradited on Tuesday night and, by Wednesday noon, Modi was telling poll-ready Rajasthan that “secrets will be out” and the “Signora” will be up to her neck in corruption trouble. Michel, for the BJP, is Modi’s ticket to a second term. And Amit Shah knows how killing ‘tadipaar’ can be.
Michel, they say, is in a tough spot. He has to expand the initials ‘AP’ and the half-eaten word ‘Fam’. But the “middleman” has steadfastly refused to take ownership of the handwritten note containing ‘AP’ and ‘Fam’. That is in the hand of some guy called Guido Haschke and he’s beyond extradition. Also, handwritten notes don’t stand up in court. There’s a Birla-Sahara precedent. So, what does the Modi and his government hope to gain from Michel’s extradition? The answer to that is ‘perception’; what voters think of politicians and political parties.
The timing of Michel’s extradition is the biggest giveaway. That and the heavy-reason belief that the extradition is part of a deal involving the “runaway daughter” of a top UAE sheikh. A quid pro quo. The idea it seems is to drag the Agusta and Mallya cases along till general elections 2019 and hope that Rafale meantime doesn’t explode midair! All the while also hope and pray that the Supreme Court doesn’t edge in sideways with a ruling on Rafale, CBI and Ram Mandir to spoil the party.
What are the chances that the Modi government has not networked a deal to bring in Mehul Choksi from the West Indies? And what about Nirav Modi; is there a deal there too? Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to win 2019 come what may or the ceiling will dump on him. The Congress has promised to take him to the cleaners with Rafale and demonetisation if it wins and it’s not a light threat. Modi made it his business to ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ and normal human behaviour dictates revenge. By any reckoning, the gloves are off.
Also, quite frankly, Modi will not want to walk into the sunset . Not just yet. There is so much of the world left to wow! Modi loves his sojourns overseas, the jhappi-pappi and the G-20. The question is does Rahul Gandhi have the killer instinct? All is fair in love and war and there’s no love lost between the Congress and the BJP, Rahul and Modi. It’s war with a capital ‘W’. So, what is this business of not letting a Congress lawyer defend Michel in court?
Michel needs counsel and he has to defend not just himself but also the Congress! The man needs all the help possible. The best Congress counsels should be ordered to defend Michel, all the way. To paraphrase the song, ‘Dubai Se Aaya Mera Dost, Dost Ko Salaam Karo’. And if you ask ‘Why the sacked Youth Congress legal head?’ the answer is because he’s a Malayali Aljo K Joseph! Don’t forget Dubai is choc-a-bloc with Malayalis, that’s why? History is proof that Malayalis have always stood by the Nehru-Gandhi family. Ask Tom Vadakan. AK Antony.
Besides, the world knows the UPA government was the one which ordered the CBI to probe Agusta. It also got back the initial tranche of money paid and, for good measure, confiscated three of the ‘birds’. Now, if Michel is back in familiar territory, it could be a ‘sign’ a good sign! The mission to bring in Michel was named ‘Mission Unicorn’ and every Joker in town knows the unicorn is a mythical animal, alien to Hindustan. The cowlicks in Bharat probably never thought of it, used as they are so much to the holy cow!
(The author is a political commentator)