Fahad Ali looks at a contentious nexus of Modi and tycoons
Modi has always shown a visible favor towards the business community particularly entrepreneurs and Modi and tycoons and this bias is reflected in the policies of his government. It is well-known that tycoons favored by BJP paid a pivotal role in the Indian national elections of 2019 which are widely recognized as the election ever. The BJP government reportedly leans heavily towards the corporate sector and Modi is widely recognized to be very close to many tycoons.
BJP is considered an expert in garnering the support of the corporate sector as it pedals most rightist policies that are widely liked by the business and trading circles. A section of the corporate sector is especially favored by the BJP, particularly, by Narendra Modi, and his association with top-notch entrepreneurs is widely commented upon there is a widespread impression that his government extends favors that are far beyond the borders of the property.
It was reported that the 2019 contest topped some $7 billion which made it one of the costliest elections globally. It was also pointed out that around $5 billion was spent during the 2014 election that swept Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power and was substantially up from the $2 billion spent in 2009. Modi’s second election was heavily bankrolled by corporate India which raised fears about the country’s democratic process.
It was pointed out that prior to the 2019 elections corporates and individuals contributed 12 times more to the BJP than to six other national parties including Congress, combined. The BJP received 93 percent of all donations above 20,000 Indian rupees and cumulatively amounting to 4.37 billion Indian rupees ($63.3 million); Congress got just 267 million Indian rupees implying that there is a huge funding disparity between parties.
Dubious Nexus Between Governing BJP & Corporate Sector
It was all the more evident that Modi traveled between rallies in a corporate jet and helicopter owned by billionaire industrialist Adani while magnate Ratan Tata praised Modi for carrying out air strikes in Pakistan. India’s richest man Ambani whose personal net worth soared from $18.6 to more than $53 billion after Modi came to power and he has repeatedly praised the prime minister in very endearing terms.
It is reported that contesting elections is getting expensive as political parties are becoming more reliant on donations from anonymous businessmen leading to a lack of transparency and worrying conflicts of interest. Many analysts mention that this trend smacks of plutocracy and expresses fears that unbridled corporate influence can have a serious impact on policies. They add that traditional funding streams, such as party memberships, are declining so parties increasingly rely on wealthy donors to fund campaigns.
The dubious nexus between governing BJP and the corporate sector has now been seriously questioned in the Indian parliament with the opposition lawmakers creating a rumpus while demanding an investigation into the connection between the Adani business Group and Modi. They pointed out the government is giving undue favors to the Adani Group though Modi retaliated hard against their accusations but spent his 90-minute speech in parliament mainly listing his government’s achievements completely avoiding answering questions about the under-fire Adani Group.
Modi, in his first public comments alluding to the accusations over Adani, tried to cover things up with rhetoric by emphasizing that the support of people is his protective cover and no one can destroy it. Amidst opposition chanting ‘Adani, Adani’ Modi insisted that the trust that people have put in Modi and tycoons is beyond the understanding of the opposition.
International Group Of Modi And Tycoons
This furor emerged after a report issued by an international group accused the Adani ports-to-energy conglomerate of stock manipulation and improper use of tax havens, while also saying it had unsustainable debt. The international group Hindenburg Research’s report triggered a rout in stocks of Adani Group’s seven listed companies that collectively lost more than $110 billion in market valuation before paring losses in recent days.
The Adani conglomerate has denied the accusations saying that Hindenburg’s allegation of stock manipulation has no basis and stems from an ignorance of Indian law. Opposition parties see the affair as an opportunity to corner Modi and tycoons who are eyeing a third term in elections next year. They have questioned investments made by the state-run Life Insurance Corporation of India and the State Bank of India in Adani Group companies.
The opposition also alleges that the government handed over management of some airports in India to the Adani Group even though it did not have any experience in the sector. Earlier the opposition brought out a fighter jet deal involving industrialist Anil Ambani wherein Modi and Anil Ambani, Mukesh’s younger brother are accused of dodgy dealings related to the purchase of Rafale jets from France. At that time it was pointed out that the opposition also accused liquor baron Mallya and jeweler Nirav of massive fraud in collusion with the ruling party and reportedly the Indian government is trying to extradite them from Britain.
The opposition emphasizes that Modi has consistently claimed cracking down on crony capitalism during his tenure but the vociferous opposition in the parliament has made a mockery of his claims. It is widely believed that this opposition will increase and will create more difficulties for Modi and tycoons in the run-up to the national elections next year.
Indian Defence Budget
While the opposition is cornering Modi, his regime is trying to capitalize on the security fears that his government keeps on fanning. In this context, the BJP government has increased the Indian defense budget by 13 percent from the last year aiming to add more fighter jets and roads along its tense border with China and Pakistan. The Indian government has allocated Indian Rs.5.94 trillion ($79 billion) for defense spending including Rs.1.63 trillion for defense capital outlays.
An expenditure that would include new weapons, aircraft, warships, and other military hardware. During his tenure in office, Modi has ramped up spending to modernize the military, while underlining his government’s commitment to boosting domestic production to supply forces deployed along two contentious borders.
The total Indian defense budget, estimated at about 2 percent of GDP is still lower than China’s 1.45tr yuan ($230 billion) which New Delhi sees as posing a threat to neighbors, particularly India. India plans to spend nearly 242 billion rupees ($ 3 billion) for naval fleet construction and 571.4 billion rupees ($7bn) for air force procurements, including more aircraft. And, India employs 1.38 million people in its armed forces, with large numbers deployed along borders with nuclear-armed rivals China and Pakistan.
India and China share a 3,500-kilometre frontier that has been disputed since the 1950s and the two countries went to war over it in 1962. At least 24 soldiers were killed when the armies of the Asian countries clashed in Ladakh, in the western Himalayas, in 2020 but tensions eased after military and diplomatic talks. A fresh clash erupted in the eastern Himalayas in December last year but no deaths were reported. The Weekender