From 'Maun'mohan to ‘Maun Modi’, why India’s politics of silence is deafening
New Delhi, Feb 20: There is a complete silence at the top, literally.
We are not talking about the great Himalayas (if you have ever climbed to the top of the mountain and experienced its solitude, you would know what we are talking about), but about the two 'towering' leaders India choose to put at the top post and their silence over important issues.
Remember back in 2012, it was then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who while attacking former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over several corruption cases against the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre, called him "Maun (silent)"mohan Singh.
Nothing much has changed in the last six years. Still the 'politics of silence' pervades the nation. It is almost eerie. Of course, "Maun" Modi (silent Modi) has replaced "Maun"mohan as the country's "pradhan sevak".
Like his predecessor, PM Modi too often goes into a complete 'silent mode', especially when the nation is in any crisis. Otherwise he speaks a lot, mostly during election rallies.
Days after the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud hit the nation--thanks to billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi who meticulously masterminded the scam with his minions to loot around Rs 11,400 crore of taxpayers' money and left the country just before the bank got a hint of it--PM Modi is refusing to speak a single word on one of the country's biggest banking scandals.
There is nothing new about Modi's "zen-like" behaviour. Every time the country stares at a problem, Modi decides to look away. Be it attacks on minorities by gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes), controversial Rafale deal or the latest PNB-Nirav Modi fraud, Modiji like his predecessor finds solace in "reticence".
The opposition Congress which is questioning the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government's role in the PNB-Nirav Modi scandal, on Monday christened the PM as "Maun Modi" (silent Modi) over his "continued silence".
"5 days since India's largest bank loot and PM Modi is on a vow of silence. The nation needs answers, Mr Prime Minister #ModiRobsIndia #MaunModi," tweeted the Congress.
The Congress asked on Twitter, "Is it too much to expect Maun Modi, who had promised to be the chowkidar of the nation, to speak one word on this systematic loot of the banking system?"
In an article headlined "Maun Modi: The Art of Silence", the Congress said the age-old proverb "silence is golden" has caught the fancy of the "verbose" PM, while the nation ponders over the reasons behind his reticence.
"What could explain this? When the country's biggest banking scam hit the airwaves, Narendra Modi was found passing on unsolicited tips to students on how to cope with exam stress, inaugurating the swanky new headquarters of BJP, and holding forth on Artificial Intelligence.
"It looks like the Chowkidar of the nation's wealth has abdicated all responsibility, moral and otherwise," it said.
In the last few days, Congress president Rahul Gandhi is constantly criticising the PM over the multi-crore banking scam. On Monday, Rahul attacked the PM over his "silence" on the multi-crore PNB bank fraud, asking where the "country's watchman" was when jeweller Nirav Modi fled the country like liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
The Congress president took the swipe at the PM for his refrain during poll rallies that he would act as a watchman (chowkidar) for the country, and cited his "na khaoonga, na khaane doonga" (will neither do nor allow anyone to do corruption) statement.
Rahul added the entire country was keen to know the "secret behind his silence" and alleged that it screams out loudly where his loyalties were.
"First Lalit (Modi) and then (Vijay) Mallya, now Nirav (Modi) also fled the country. Where is the country's watchman who claimed 'na khaoonga, na khaane doonga' (Will neither do nor allow anyone to do corruption)?
"The public is longing to know the reason of 'saheb's' silence. His silence screams out loud who is he loyal to?" he asked in a tweet in Hindi.
पहले ललित फिर माल्या— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 19, 2018
अब नीरव भी हुआ फरार
कहाँ है 'न खाऊँगा, न खाने दूँगा' कहने वाला देश का चौकीदार?
साहेब की खामोशी का राज़ जानने को जनता बेकरार
उनकी चुप्पी चीख चीख कर बताए
वो किसके हैं वफादार#ModiRobsIndia
The Communist Party of India (CPI) too blamed the Prime Minister's Office for diamond merchant Nirav Modi fleeing the country and hit out at the PM for keeping mum on the scam.
The party's general secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy said the PM's silence on such a "big scandal is surprising". "On every issue, the PM reacts, tweets and comments. But when such a serious incident takes place, why doesn't he speak or react? He must reply," Reddy told reporters in Hyderabad on Sunday.
The Congress asked the government who actually facilitated the escape of accused designer jeweller Nirav Modi and his partner Mehul Choksi, despite a court order declaring Choksi as an "absconder" and a proclaimed offender.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari demanded that the government issue a white paper on the health of the banking sector and a complete list of all NPAs of banks be published on their website to enable people who have invested money in these banks to know their fiscal health.
The Congress also wanted the PM to speak out on Amit Shah's son's company, the Rafale price at which the aircraft were purchased, the purchase of stake by ONGC in Gujarat Petroleum Corporation and on the issue of death of Justice Loya.
The Congress said "whenever the PM speaks, it is either to dish out more rhetoric, or to badmouth the Congress party, or to point towards the past and claim victimhood".
The opposition party also took out a video of PM Modi sleeping while scamsters like Mallya and Nirav Modi fled.
"Have you heard of this amazing scheme by the Modi Govt to create more billionaires?
"PM Modi has mastered the art of remaining silent while scam after scam hits the nation. He possibly believes that his silence will help distract the nation," the party said.
Amid all the noises generated by the Congress, there is a great smiliarity between the functioning of both the NDA and the UPA regimes. PM Modi is only following on the "maun" footsteps of the previous Manmohan Singh government.
Be it the BJP or the Congress government--the good rule of thumb is "maun".