oratorical skills and biting sarcasm to deadly effect to utterly annihilate his opponents. However, as soon as ascension was beyond doubt, he morphed into the consummate statesman talking about inclusiveness and accommodation. Indeed in the first few days after his victory, he displayed such humility and emotion as to make Manmohan Singh look aggressive in comparison. A showman to his toes, Narendrabhai decided to transform a routine (and boring) swearing in ceremony into a spectacle for the masses. He invited the heads of state of all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to grace his coronation. When the Pakistan PM agreed to come, it was regarded as a coup of sorts and the media predictably went gaga over him, relegating the other leaders to an irrelevant footnote. As it turned out,
the “spectacle” turned out to be a bit of a d
amp squib. Millions of salivating television viewers were treated to the sad sight of a group of SAARC bigwigs seated in row, sweltering in the Delhi heat and trying very hard to stay awake as 45 ministers droned through a monotonous oath that few of them probably intended to keep. A series of one on one meetings with the SAARC heads the following day promised some excitement. However, since each meeting was scheduled to last less than 30 minutes, it is doubtful that anything substantial was discussed. Stil
l, I hope that Modi reasserted India’s status as the top dog in
the region, especially to Mian
. Nawaz Sharif made all the right noises, but whether it translates into concrete action on the ground is still up in the air.
The media went into raptures over the new PM’s “lean and mean" cabinet and the new
couldn’t wait to rush to television studios so that a dazzled public could bask in their
glory. Since an expansion is expected in the next few weeks, I am not sure how lean the final
cabinet will be. As for Modi’s picks, some members,
including Ram Vilas Paswan, Gopinath Munde and Nitin Gadkari, are not exactly known for probity, particularly in financial transactions; and it is to be seen if Modi can curb their natural tendencies. And is it a coincidence that they have been allotted ministries where there is maximum scope for financial manipulation? This will be a real test since the holier-than-thou BJP made
corruption in Congress their main election plank. Gadkari’s
rehabilitation, in particular, has been quite remarkable. One may recall that he was removed from the post of party President after his invention of bogus companies (located in hovels) came to light. Now all is forgiven and the BJP will no doubt justify h
is exoneration on the grounds that “no prosecutable evidence” was found against him. And this is the man who has been given the jumbo ministry
of transport and shipping, with a potential for awarding contracts worth thousands of crores. It is to be seen whether like his predecessor, Modi will turn a blind eye, or show us the mettle he has been promising.
may indeed be at hand under Narendrabhai, but my guess is that corruption will remain immutable. On a more hopeful note, the super arrogant and sneering Subramanium Swamy who positioned himself as Modi's principal cheerleader, was kept out of the cabinet. That act alone raised Narendrabhai several points in my esteem. Modi started his term with a bang by latching on to one of the prime issues agitating many people: bringing back the thousands of crores of black money stashed in foreign banks. Thanks to the hype created partly by the BJP itself, many Indians believe that if this horde is