Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How Modi Sarkar has failed the Indian Economy




The Indian Economy grew at just 7.2% in the first half of the financial year 2015-16, while it grew at 7.3% in the entire financial year of 2014-15. The economic growth remained flat in the 19 months of the Modi Government

There are four key components which contribute to aggregate demand growth-the most visible symptom of economic health – private consumption, private investment, government investment (focusing on government expenditure) and exports. Unlike the boom years 2004-12 where the economy was driven by all four components of demand, the striking difference about this year is that the economy is driven only by private consumption and to an extent by government investment. The two other factors of ‘private investment’ and ‘exports’ have remained sluggish leading to a drag in growth.


Private Consumption:

Private consumption has been the bright spot in the economy. This has been emphasized in the‘Mid-Year Economic Analysis’ recently released by the Ministry of Finance.

“In 2015-16, if oil prices remain at about US$50 per barrel for the Indian basket for the rest of the year, the average oil price decline will be about 40 percent. This positive term of trade shock to the Indian economy would amount roughly to 2.2 percentage points”

Directly (household purchase of petroleum products) and indirectly (higher corporate margins passed on to consumers as lower prices and higher wages and salaries to government officials), about half of this could lead to higher private consumption.

In fact, According to the figures released by Ministry of Petroleum, Global Crude oil price of Indian Basket was US$ 33.33 per bbl (as on December 17, 2015), so going by that logic the positive impact on the Indian economy would be more than just 2.2 percentage points and the private consumption should increase. One important point to ponder is as to whether the real benefits of these lower prices are being passed on to consumers or not?

Private Investment:

Another factor which resulted in the drag of growth was – private investment. Why is the private investment weak? The balance sheets of corporate India have been highly stressed. According to an analysis done by Credit Suisse (which is based on 11000 companies) there is a large debt accumulated by certain corporate groups since 2012.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor, Raghuram Rajan, highlighted the problem almost as soon as he took over in 2014.

Two data points are relevant in this context:

A fifth of the listed non-government, non-financial companies are now categorized as leveraged. These are companies that have a negative net worth or a debt-equity ratio of more than two times. And 15% of these firms fall in the “highly leveraged” category. The proportion of both leveraged and highly leveraged companies has risen between September last year and this year.

In the unlisted universe, data for which is only available till the end of the financial year 2014, about a quarter of the firms (both public limited and private limited) fell into a category defined as “weak”. These are firms that have an interest coverage ratio of 1.

Government Investment:

Although the Government claims that that its investment has been on an upswing, with an increase by about 29%, since the previous 2 quarters, but this supposed positive contribution of public investment, is offset by a combination of lowering of other expenditures and higher tax receipts. This factor has had little effect on the demand in growth.

Exports:

The fourth important factor which impacts the demand of growth is the weakness of exports. Exports from India showed a declining trend for 12 months in a row. Exports during November 2015 stood at $ 20.01 billion, 24.43% lower than $ 26.48 billion during November, 2014 and $21.35 billion in October 2015.

The trade deficit for November 2015 was $9.78 billion, down 39.74% from $16.23 billion in November 2014. The deficit was $9.76 in October 2015.

However, the most recent data suggest that neither India’s exports nor imports have lost any significant global market share till atleast the end of 2014. Thus, declining exports seem to be predominantly determined by a decline in global demand. But this preposition may be considered with a pinch of salt.

So let us now examine some key economic indicators which are driving the Indian economy at this juncture:

Growth:

The first three quarters of the financial year (FY) 2015-16 have shown robust growth both in terms of GVA (Gross Value Addition) and GDP, which at constant market prices has improved. Economic growth, prima facie, too is showing signs of steady recovery. The latest GDP estimates suggest in the first half of 2015-16 it grew at 7.2 percent as compared to 7.5 percent in the first half of FY2015. In contrast, nominal GDP growth declined substantially from 13.5 percent in first quarter of FY2015 to just 7.4 percent in the first quarter of FY2016.





As discussed earlier, private investment and exports are being a drag on the demand of growth. The Mid-Year Economic Review has lowered the growth projections to 7-7.5% in this financial year from 8.1-8.5% projected at the start of the year. Even more importantly, the review’s recommendations on action implicitly suggest that growth next year could further slow down.

The Reserve Bank in its annual financial stability report (FSR), flags “risks arising from erratic climatic conditions, limited policy space, corporate performance…and low investment growth…could pose challenges”

The remarkable thing about 2015-16 growth performance is that it continues to be as strong as it is given the weakness of exports (because of declining world markets) and private investment. In the boom years, exports were adding 1.9 percentage points to demand whereas in 2015-16, export demand has been negative (-1.1 percentage points).

The difference with the boom years, on account of exports is thus 3 percentage points. Similarly, private investment contributed 3.2 percentage points and only 1 percentage point in the current year. These two components of demand should have reduced growth by 5.3 percentage points. And yet, actual growth is only 2-2.5 percentage points less.

Reforms initiatives could provide the stimulus for fresh investment, which should translate into greater private investment.

Inflation:

Inflation has continued to moderate steadily. Consumer price inflation has declined from 5.4 percent in February 2015 to 5 percent in October 2015. The WPI has been in negative territory for 12 months since November 2014 and is in negative at (-) 3.8 percent in October 2015. In an irony of sorts, the Government perhaps takes pride that Rural wage growth and minimum support price increases—important determinants of inflation—have remained muted.

The recent decline in WPI inflation was broad-based and mainly due to falling fuel prices. As fuel has proportionately larger weightage in WPI, the decline in fuel prices led to a sharper fall in WPI as compared to CPI. Fuel and manufactured products account for the bulk of decline in WPI. Inflation based on Consumer Price Index which remained sticky around 9-10 per cent during 2012-14 moderated to 5.9 percent in 2014-15 and further to 4.6 percent in 2015-16 (April-October)

This striking wedge between the two has been rising steadily and reached unprecedented high of 8.5percentage points in the second quarter of FY2016. 




Price Rise in Pulses

Inflation in pulses has seen a phenomenal rising trend in the current year although general inflation has declined. WPI and CPI inflation in pulses which was low at -10.7 and 0.6 per cent respectively in October 2013 increased to 53 per cent and 42.2 per cent respectively in October 2015. The contribution of pulses to CPI inflation also increased to 19.4 per cent in October 2015 from a low of 0.1 per cent in October 2013.

While overall sowing of pulses is more than last year, that’s not the case for crucial crops such as Tur (Arhar) because of dry spells in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, which are the key growing areas. The most affected crops are Tur (Arhar), Jowar and Soybean.

Pulses, production has suffered due to lower output in 2014, damages due to unseasonal rains and hail storms in March 2015 and shortfall in sowing (especially Tur) this year. As a result, inflation in pulses stands at an average 20% this year so far, with August inflation crossing 25%and surging to 42% for Tur. It surged to 160% in September and 201% in first week of October.


Fiscal Deficit:

The country has witnessed robust growth, low inflation, manageable current account deficit and prudent fiscal management in the first half of the current year. However, low inflation has also meant that the GDP growth in nominal terms is lower than what was projected at the time of  preparing the Budget. This, along with lower than expected receipts from disinvestment proceeds, could make the achievement of fiscal targets challenging.

Though the fiscal sector registered some notable successes, it is also true that the decline in nominal GDP growth relative to the budget assumption will pose a challenge for meeting the fiscal deficit target of 3.9 per cent of GDP. Slower-than-anticipated nominal GDP growth (8.2 percent versus budget estimate of 11.5) will itself raise the deficit target by 0.2 percent of GDP. The anticipated shortfall in disinvestment receipts, owing to adverse market conditions for a portfolio that largely comprises commodity stocks, will add to the challenge.


Infrastructure and Industry:

As per the latest national accounts estimates of GDP for the second quarter (July-September) of 2015-16 indicated earlier, manufacturing registered a growth of 9.3 per cent compared to 7.9 per cent in the corresponding quarter of the previous year. This revival in the overall growth of the economy is reflected in the growth of index of industrial production (IIP) as well. While there are better and more reliable indicators of industrial activity available, it is the IIP with its limitations, which is available on a monthly basis with a lag of 42 days and as such is useful in indicating the broad trends.


The eight core infrastructure supportive industries, with an overall weight of 37.9 per cent in IIP, registered a year on year growth of 2.3 per cent during April-September, 2015-16 as against the growth of 5.1 per cent during the corresponding period of the previous financial year

The decrease in growth rate during April-September, 2015 can be attributed to lower growth in electricity, coal and cement sectors and negative growth in steel and natural gas sectors.

Refinery products registered positive growth, crude oil sector has shown marginal increase in growth and fertilizers sector has shown an impressive growth in April-September, 2015 as compared to the corresponding period of the last year.

The major listed mining companies in the private corporate sector grew by 8 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively at current prices in quarter one (Q1) and quarter two (Q2) of 2015-16.

The key constituents of mining sector, namely, production of coal, crude oil and natural gas grew by 0.9 per cent, 1.7 per cent and 0.5 per cent during Q2 2015-16. Coal had grown by 7.3 per cent in Q1 2015-16. The mining sector, thus, needs to gain momentum to keep pace with the increasing requirements of the economy.



Conclusion

The state of the economy is a matter of grave national concern.The GDP growth has been almost flat; investment sentiment is poor as apparent from virtual non creation of Capital Assets, and there has been a sharp escalation in the Debt to GDP Ratio.

Despite benign rate of inflation and achievable fiscal targets, there has to be a word of caution for the growth trajectory, which is evident from the fact that growth figures have been downgraded to 7-7.5% now, even in the Government’s official Mid-Year Review. The initial optimism of the Economic Survey which was presented in the beginning of the year has faded. Even the World Bank has indicated that it will have to relook at India’s macro-economic estimates and probably downgrade the growth figures

For 12 continuous months the merchandise exports have been in a free fall resulting in loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the Manufacturing Sector. A Government that had come to power promising 2 Crore jobs annually has led us to a situation, which is characterized by mounting job losses and abject failure to reinvigorate economic growth. This has led to despair and despondency amongst the youth.

This Government, has managed to achieve the dubious distinction of messing the economy despite the fact, that it has got the unprecedented and windfall advantage of a historic low in the prices of international crude. However, leave apart passing the benefits of these low prices to the consumers of the country, the Government has increased the central excise on petroleum products seven times to fill its coffers.


Overall, the Narendra Modi Government has failed the nation's expectations when it comes to its economy. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Why Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policy is hardly innovative


The Bharatiya Janata Party’s approach towards Pakistan swings like a wild pendulum. They make hawkish statements when out of power and cuddle the neighbour with an impromptu hug when in power- without imagining the repercussions of either. The recent ‘sudden’ halt by the Prime Minister in Lahore while coming back from Kabul is another such addition to the motion of this swinging pendulum. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has hailed this ‘stop-over’ by the PM as an example of “innovative diplomacy” and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has called the PM ‘statesman like”. But hardly of the two are true.

Flashback June 2015, when the Foreign Minister on record stated that there will be no talks with Pakistan as long as Zaki-ur-rehman Lakhvi or Hafiz Sayeed (both master minds of the Mumbai 26/11 attack) remain free. Then come July and the BJP’s spokespersons were claiming victory after the Ufa talks of the ‘big breakthrough’ on terror related talks. This was nothing new. In a Joint Statement, way back in September, 2006 after a Summit bilateral in Havana between Dr ManmohanSingh and the then Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan not only “agreed that terrorism is a scourge that needs to be effectively dealt with” but also “decided to put in place an India-Pakistan anti-terrorism institutional mechanism to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations”

Similarly, in the Joint Statement issued after a bilateral meeting between the then Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan on September 8, 2012, Pakistan had not only agreed to “fight terrorism in an effective and comprehensive manner, so as to eliminate the scourge  in allits forms and manifestations” , but alsocommitted to “bring all the perpetratorsof the Mumbai terror attacks to justice expeditiously”

A series of events preceded the much hyped Ufa talks:-

1. The Prime Minister in a dramatic move invited the Prime Minister of Pakistan for his swearing in ceremony on May 26, 2014. This was followed by the now infamous ‘Saari-Shawl’ and mango diplomacy.

2. This was followed by again a much touted declaration of Foreign Secretary level talks between the two countries on July 23, 2014

3. Even as this bonhomie was being touted, Pakistan continued its violation of the Indian borders and intensified firings and shelling manifold. Its High Commissioner in India dared us by audaciously meeting the Shabir Shah, a leading Kashmiri separatist to discuss Kashmir.

4. Amidst severe criticism the Government then decided to withdraw from the Foreign Secretary talks on August 18, 2014.

5. This flip flop was followed by Pakistani courts first granting bail to and then releasing the dreaded terrorist and prime accused in the Mumbai 26/11 attack Zaki-ur-rehmanLakhvi in absence of the Pakistan Government providing ample prosecution evidence.

6. Even as Modi’s Government and his Minister Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore were undiplomatically celebrating covert counter terrorist operations in Myanmar, the Pakistan Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan on June 10, 2015, ‘threatened and warned’ India.

7. On July 8, 2015, the Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif threatened India with a Nuclear attack.

8. Even while the Prime Minister was preparing for his talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Pakistan shamelessly violated the LoC in Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir killing two Jawans and injuring one over July 8th and 9th

Then comes August 2015 – The Udhampur terror attack on BSF convoy and the Gurdaspur terror attack followed. In a blatant show of aggression, Heavily Armed Terrorists using Chinese made grenades from Pakistan walked into Gurdaspur unhindered and killed 10 civilians and 7 security personnel including a Superintendent of Punjab Police.

In September, Modi Government in another about-face of sorts called of the much publicized National Security Advisor level talks. Much drama was created by both sides and Modi’s spokespersons emphasized the need of having a dialogue on terror while Pakistan pushed for the K-word. At the end the entire theatrics ended in calling off the NSA level talks. Modi Government’s unpreparedness and lack of backchannel talks with Pakistan was thoroughly exposed in this disaster of sorts.

Before coming to the present, let us rewind into the BJP’s record viz-a-viz terror and Pakistan. Let us recall the Vajpayee-Nawaz Sharif era. To understand BJP’s foreign policy, it is very essential to look back at three most important events- Kargil, Parliament attack and Operation Parakram.

After testing a Nuclear Bomb, a month after assuming office- certainly prepared by the previous Narasimha Rao Government, Atal Behari Vajpayee shook hands with Nawaz Sharif and inaugurated the Lahore Bus. Vajpayee wanted to be statesmen, and certainly for every Indian Prime Minister (barring few exceptions like Indira Gandhi) peace with Pakistan certainly means etching their name in history.



The bus to Lahore went nowhere and Kargil happened. Vajpayee and the entire BJP Government and administration were caught snoozing when Pakistan attacked India with the help of Kashmiri militants.

Some contrarian views suggest that Atal Behari Vajpayee knew about the Kargil infiltration long back, but he did nothing in time, and more than 500 lives of army men were lost. The intelligence failure leading to Kargil is pardonable and is of lesser relevance here. The only reason that India lost so many precious soldiers, was because Vajpayee restrained the army from crossing the LoC (Line of Control).

The government bungled before the war broke out. India's military and intelligence establishments erred in assessing the indicators.

It came as a shock for the Kargil Review Committee (headed by defense analyst K Subrahmanyam) when a lady officer at Army Headquarters told it that General Ved Prakash Malik, then chief of army staff, got a report of intrusions by Pakistanis a day before he was to leave for Poland on an official visit. General Malik instructed his office not to forward the report until his return.

The Vajpayee Government’s naivety caused the loss of atleast 527 Indian soldiers and 1363 soldiers were left wounded. They were busy with “peace fever”. Across the board there was a craving for friendship with Pakistan. Military and intelligence personnel neglected all indicators about General Pervez Musharraf's duplicity.

Kargil also showed our military leaders in poor light. Even when they started getting reports of the intrusion, they underplayed it, at high cost. Defence Minister George Fernandes termed it, initially, a 'small intrusion.' Even a cursory look at the newspapers of April-May 1999 makes the government's attempt to underplay the event evident.

Although we should salute the brave men who made supreme sacrifices and India won the war, but it further exposed the pusillanimity of the BJP Government

First came the Lahore Bus ride, then Kargil, then a ceasefire, then calls for a final war (aar-paar ki ladaai) with Pakistan and finally the much-trumpeted thaw in Indo-Pak relations. All through the BJP Government made attempts at peace and war, innocent Indian citizens continue to be slaughtered. India’s symbols of Democracy, the Red Fort and the Parliament, have not been spared while the Prime Minister oscillates between playing a dove and a hawk.

In December 2001, Parliament attack followed. To avenge the Parliament attack, the BJP led Vajpayee Government again made a terrible mistake in which hundreds of our soldiers lost their lives without even fighting Pakistan at the border.

Perhaps the biggest and the most lesser known failures of the Vajpayee Government was Operation Parakaram. Vajpayee Government in its zeal to counter Pakistan’s hand in the Parliament attack began mobilization of troops at the Indo-Pak border. This resulted in a 10 month standoff between the two countries.

The Kargil conflict led to the death of 527 Indian soldiers while heroically taking back heights occupied by Pakistanis in 1999. Shockingly, without going to war, 1874 Indian Soldiers died!

Usually extremely tight-lipped about casualty figures, the defence minister George Fernandes had to disclose them in the Rajya Sabha. "The number of Army personnel killed or wounded in Jammu and Kashmir and the western sector during the mobilisation, Operation Parakram, from December 19, 2001 to October 16, 2002, was 1,874," said Defence Minister George Fernandes on April 30, 2003

This, by any benchmark, is a truly staggering figure for a 10-month period, even if the counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir are taken into account.

In the initial phase of Operation Parakram itself, after the December 2001 Parliament attack, over 100 soldiers were killed and 250 injured during mine-laying operations. 
Vehicle accidents, artillery duels with Pakistan and other incidents led to many more casualties.

Relentless counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir are also, of course, exacting a heavy toll on the soldiers, with over 1,000 being killed in terrorist activity between 2000-2003

So the “Nationalist” BJP is not only responsible for killing 527 soldiers in Kargil, it is also responsible for killing 1874 more soldiers due of this humongous misadventure!

The cost of sustaining Operation Parakram was reported to be have been pegged by India’s National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) at Rs 7 crore a day. This works out to approximately Rs 2,100 crore over 10 months

Let us now again come back to the events which preceded Narendra Modi’s much talked about sudden visit to Pakistan.

Sushma Swaraj went to Islamabad for the ‘Heart of Asia Summit’ which was multinational exercise in which she met Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. This was all a calculated exercise after the noise of the NSA talk disaster was over. All was good. But even before that something unusual happened on the sidelines of the November 2014 SAARC Summit.

Certain sections of the media had today reported that the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi met his Pakistan counterpart, Shri Nawaz Sharif and held extensive talks utilizing the good offices of a private industrialist as a mediator. This meeting, if it happened, took place despite categorical denial on part of the Government about many having been planned, leave apart, a meeting having taken place.

Infact it was underlined and publicly stated in the media that "While the PM had bilateral meetings with all other 5 heads of government's on the side lines of the SAARC summit", none happened with Pakistan. The Government then said, Prime Minister Shri  Narendra Modi held bilateral talks with all Heads of Government and State attending the 18th SAARC Summit in November 2014 with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the only conspicuous exemption.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, "It was decided earlier that there will be no structured talks as no requests had come... I said it before we are ready for a meaningful bilateral dialogue. When circumstances are there, we will have that dialogue. Nothing else....We are ready when they are ready."

Asked whether Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan will exchange pleasantries at the dinner or at the retreat tomorrow, he only said "when a senior Indian leader and senior Pakistani leader come face to face, they exchange courtesies.

The dilly dallying on an issue as sensitive and detrimental like our relations with Pakistan has been visible ever since Shri Modi's Government assumed office. Be it the posturing at the swearing in of Shri Modi, invitation to Kashmiri separatists by the Pakistan High Commission, subsequent bail and release of accused of Mumbai 26/11, unprecedented violations by Pakistan from across the borders, declaration and then cancellation of NSA talks on two occasions, blatant disregard of Ufa joint statement by Pakistan or Pakistan raking up Kashmir and third party mediation at UN, the nation's Pakistan policy has been nothing but disastrous flip flops.

A 160 second animated meeting between the two Prime Ministers were followed up in Paris on December 1, 2015. Winter was covering South-Asia, but the ice between India and Pakistan now seemed to be breaking.

After being a mute spectator to more than 900 ceasefire violations from across the border ,death of 78 security personnel since June 2014 and 25% increase in cross border infiltration this year,  Narendra Modi Government was now shifting from his hawkish mode to the ‘dove’ mode. The same Government which cancelled the NSA level talks in September held an NSA level talk in a third country- Thailand, just four months after their stand that Kashmir and all outstanding issues won’t be discussed. In Bangkok, a framework for a comprehensive dialogue for every, yes each and every outstanding issue including Kashmir was made between the two NSA’s who met secretly. This was done when the Indian Parliament was underway, and the Prime Minister or his Foreign Minister did not even bother to inform the lawmakers of the country about such a thing taking place at a neutral venue.

With such blunders in the Government's show case, the people of India were then told that NSA talks happened in Bangkok as a continuation of the talks between PM and his Pakistani counterpart.


Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has often said that “we can choose our friends, but we have no choice with regard to our neighbors”

Let us not be hypocritical of our stand with Pakistan. Every Indian wants a meaningful, result oriented dialogue with Pakistan, but not at the behest of our dead bodies. Narendra Modi with all his political rhetoric during the Lok Sabha elections on Pakistan, failed to keep his word. His self proclaimed ’56-inch’ chest seemed to have vanished. Posturing is all very well when it comes to foreign affairs, but pragmatism is the need of the hour.

Narendra Modi’s so called halt in Lahore is being termed as ‘innovative diplomacy’, but he seems to be now only following the pragmatic diplomacy of Dr Manmohan Singh who kept his word on Pakistan and never visited the country only for self publicity and optics. Instead he concentrated on deliverables and always preferred dialogue and result oriented talks with Pakistan, whether back channel or otherwise. It is said he and Pakistan almost came to closing a dispute. This he did on his own principles.

The section of the media who is hailing Modi’s Pakistan policy right now is again falling into the Vajpayee-Lahore-Kargil-Agra trap. It is high time we bring some maturity and gravitas to our foreign policy. Especially when we cannot choose our neighbours.


For meaningful talks to take place, India’s stand should always be consistent -certain core issues with regards to unjustified belligerence on part of Pakistan involving cross border terrorism, violation of ceasefire line and application of due process of law to the accused in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks have to be put in place. Full Stop.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Why the National Herald Case is a clear cut case of Political Vendetta

“A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind”


The National Herald Case is a vicious cocktail of political vendetta, assault on institutions and subverting federalism. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term ‘Vendetta’ as “a very long and violent fight between two families or groups” or “a series of acts done by someone over a long period of time to cause harm to a disliked person or group”. 

Political vendetta, simply put is a fight between two political parties. It is no secret that when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat he made sure that anyone who raised a voice against him be crushed- be it his own party men like Keshubhai Patel or Haren Pandya or Sanjay Joshi; or be it the opposition. He even did not spare the constituents of his own Sangh Parivar like VHP’s Praveen Togadia.

There is a legal aspect to the National Herald, but more importantly there is a deeper political aspect which has not been clearly understood as yet. There is no iota of doubt that the case was filed by Mr Subramanian Swamy way back in 2012, when he was not even a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Arun Jaitley in his latest blog calls him a ‘private citizen’, but this is hardly true. He has been consistently supportive of the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and later merged his miniscule Janata party with the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2013. He is now the member of BJP’s Central Committee. Between August 15, 2015 to August 31 2015, Swamy addressed atleast 15 meetings in the United States and sang eulogies in favour of Mr. Modi.  
It is important to note that ED Director Mr Rajan S Katoch who was handling the case and had contended to close the case was unceremoniously removed overnight. Mr. Swamy then claimed that the ED Director was removed on his complain.

It is important to note how BJP former Union Minister & Spokesperson, Shri Shahnawaz Hussain held a press conference in BJP headquarter in Delhi minutes after the High Court ruling when the judgment itself had not been released by the Delhi Court till then? (It was finally released at 6.30 PM on 7th December, 2015). This, too, smacks of perverse enthusiasm of BJP in support of Subramanian Swamy as also in politicizing a High Court order.

Mr Arun Jaitley, who now calls the Congress to find an exit of their own created ‘Chakravyuh’ himself in a TV interview, in August 2014 itself that the case was ‘prima facie strong’ If there was no intention of any kind of vendetta then why did the Finance Minister made such a statement? He himself claims that the ED has not sent any notices, yet he proclaims Congress prima facie guilty?

There are several instances of the Modi Government targeting Congress leaders, Modi government raided the premises of Leader of Opposition & Narendra Modi’s bete noire, Shankar Sinh Vaghela, purely with a view to humiliate him. Senior most Chief Minister in India, Himachal Chief Minister – Virbhadra Singh was raided by CBI at a time when his daughter was getting married. When nothing was found, a second case by Enforcement Directorate has been registered against him. Similarly, a case was heaped upon Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Chief, Sachin Pilot as also former Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot as a counter blast to the ‘Modigate’ Scandal and ‘Mining Scam’ of Rajasthan. Similar FIRs were lodged by CBI in Haryana and Chhattishgarh against Congress leaders. Even other opponents of Modi government were not spared. 

At least, three dozen cases including sedition have been registered against Hardik Patel in Gujarat. Over 20,000 criminal cases have been registered against Patidars in Gujarat. Other political parties and other opposition leaders have been similarly targeted in Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu etc.

The Modi Government has seemed to adopt a two pronged strategy to target the opposition. First, target the opposition ruled states especially the Congress ones. Secondly, do not co-operate with them.

 The Congress party governs 5 North Eastern states. There has been a consistent effort on the part of the Modi Government to reduce funds and scrapping special schemes meant for them. North-East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy 2007 was scrapped by the Government. The Government has also scrapped the ‘special category status’ to hill states. 7 out of 11 such states are Congress governed states. The Backward Regions Grant Fund (BGRF) has also been scrapped. Half the country is reeling under drought; Maharashtra and Karnataka are facing severe crises. In Bundelkhand, people are living on grass. The Karnataka Chief Minister and the Agriculture Minister had atleast 6 meetings with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, yet there Centre has not released a single penny. Union Minister Radha Mohan Singh in Parliament contended that there have been many teams which have visited such states, but Centre is yet to release funds.

Modi Government trumpets a lot about ‘co-operative federalism’, yet in several opposition government states it is adopting the policy of non-co-operation. Until the Bihar elections, there was a public tussle between the AAP Government in Delhi and Centre on virtually every issue. Even after the formation of the new Government in Bihar, stories in the media suggest that adequate funds for road construction and development works have not been released by the Centre.

Assault on independent institution is the third ingredient of the vicious cocktail of political vendetta which this Government has unleashed on the opposition. The Government had the gumption to publically challenge the decision of the division bench of the Supreme Court by describing it as ‘tyranny of the unelected’. None less than the Finance Minister of the Government did so. One of the first salvos of the Modi Government after coming to power was on the Judiciary when the National Judicial Appointment Commission was not established.

When the Honourable Supreme Court of India pronounced the Judgement on the NJAC- the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that this judgement was based on ‘erroneous logic’. “Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected and if the elected are undermined, democracy itself would be in danger. Are not institutions like the Election Commission and the CAG  credible enough even though they are appointed by elected governments?” Mr. Jaitley asked.

The appointment of reputed lawyer, Gopal Subramanium to Supreme Court was stalled because he had once appeared against BJP President and Shri Modi’s key aide Shri Amit Shah. This was a sheer obstructive attempt to undermine the independence of judiciary by the Modi Government.

Prime Minister again warned the judiciary to be not influenced by five star activists bringing into question the most important innovation in judicial history i.e. Public Interest Litigation by spirited citizens in public interest.

This systematic denigration to brow beat judiciary does not bode well for democracy.

The Bihar elections acted as a catalyst for the Modi Government to gradually fulfill its dream of ‘Vipaksh Mukt Bharat’- but the people of India are more intelligent.