Sunday, October 07, 2018

With ‘Fishy’ Jet Deal, India’s Opposition Finally Lands a Blow on Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India swept into office four years ago vowing to crush corruption. Some of his most momentous acts since taking office, like wiping out nearly 90 percent of India’s currency virtually overnight, have been to clean up the country’s endemic graft.
Mr. Modi was also quick to accuse the rival Congress Party, India’s longstanding political dynasty, of lavish spending and crony capitalism.
But in the past few weeks, the role of accuser has been dramatically reversed.
The Congress Party, which had seemed anemic since Mr. Modi’s election, has found a new spring in its step by hounding the prime minister over an opaque arms deal that has raised some serious questions.
Why did Mr. Modi renegotiate a deal for 36 fighter jets?
Why was a company run by members of one of India’s wealthiest families chosen to participate in the deal, despite having no experience building jets?
Why did the costs of the planes seem to jump so much?
And why isn’t Mr. Modi sharing more details?
For several years, Indian politics have been dominated by Mr. Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., which has grown accustomed to pushing around its rivals.
But for the first time in a long time, the opposition, by building a damaging narrative around this arms deal, has landed a solid punch, and is hoping to keep the pressure on Mr. Modi and his party ahead of next year’s general election.
06/10/18 Jeffrey Gettleman and Kai Schultz/New York Times