And that’s what they made of Modi’s foreign tours all these years

Narendra Modi, UN Security Council, US armada, Shekhar Gupta, Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose, Mihir Bose, Shankarshan Thakur, Akhilesh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Anand Sharma, Derek O’ Brien, Lalu Yadav, Sitaram Yechury, Pinaryi Vijayan, Arvind Kejriwal, Shatrughan Sinha, Rahul Gandhi, Sanjay Jha, Kamal Nath, Sashi Tharoor, Arundhati Roy, Ramachandra Guha, Digvijay Singh, Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, Rajdeep Sardesai

Shame those who mocked Modi

I want to bring you a capsule of jibes and insults smeared on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and name them who mocked his foreign visits so in his second term, you remember them for poisoning your mind.

These are politicians, media houses, academicians and intellectuals who ought to be ashamed but never would now that the Pulwama aftermath has shown the world standing as one behind India against Pakistan sponsored-terrorism.

No UN Security Council resolution, no US armada parked in Indian ocean, no China steamrolling our north-east happened even as India made air strikes deep in Pakistan--not in war but in peacetime.

This was Modi’s finest hour and a vindication of his time and method on foreign trips even as these disgusting forces never lost a chance to haul the prime minister through the coals.

There were RTIs on who were the individuals who accompanied Modi on his foreign tours; how much it cost the nation (Shekhar Gupta); how much gifts he received. Newspapers reported with glee that Modi’s visit has cost the taxpayers upwards of Rs 2000 crores – even as this entire sum was not even 1 per cent of the Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) that these tours brought to the nation. For example, in 2017-18 alone, India received nearly 62 thousand million dollars as FDI. If the investment from UAE was $255 million in 2013-14, it went up to $1,050 million in 2016-2017, a rise of more than 300 per cent! (Rajdeep Sardesai compared expenses on Modi’s foreign tours with Manmohan Singh to show the former in poor light).

There were even RTIs on whether the expenses on clothes Modi wears is borne by taxpayers before it was revealed that the PM spent on it from his pocket.  (Remember Sagarika Ghose making phoney allegation that Modi’s shawl was Louis Vuitton’s—before the company clarified it was not in business of making shawls).

When Modi gifted Bhagwad Gita to Shinzo Abe of Japan, the Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha tweeted: The ferocious communal cat is out of the bag, officially! (Who’s to tell him that Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu or Shinzo Abe wore their religious affiliations in public with pride). Nobody praised Modi for his thoughtfulness as Xi Jinping got a Gita in Mandarin; Abe in Japanese and Obama a very special Mahatma Gandhi version with a khadi cover. Akhilesh Yadav saw his visit to a mosque in Singapore during ramzan as a bid to “appease” the minority. Kamal Nath viewed it as an attempt to “fool the nation.”

Modi evoking Gandhi on foreign trips was seen by Ramachandra Guha as an attempt to match Gandhi globally; Mamata Banerjee slammed him for his frequent foreign trips; Sashi Tharoor said Modi’s  photo-ops abroad were tiresome.

Some of the reactions were outrageous – Sample Sitaram Yechury: “Forget bringing back black money from abroad, bring back the PM”; Or Raj Thackeray: In sequel to Bajrangi Bhaijjan, Salman Khan would bring Modi back; Or Anand Sharma: We are concerned about his whereabouts; Or Derek O’ Brien: Please grant a visa to the PM to come to Rajya Sabha; Or Shatrughan Sinha mocking his Rwanda visit: Thoughtful of you to have gifted 200 cows (there) to a village.”

Mainstream journalists, as usual, were downright silly. Sankarshan Thakur doubted if Modi indeed visited Seine river during his trip to France (MEA duly flashed a picture to him); Mihir Sharma waved a picture showing Modi without a headphone in a conference in France (before twitteratis told him of a thing called ear-plugs.  Barkha Dutt went hard about a certain Sajjan Jindal arranging Modi-Nawaz Sharif liaison. She claimed the two leaders met in the “privacy of Jindal’s hotel room.” The fact is it happened at a SAARC retreat. (journos feel terrible that Modi doesn’t take them on foreign tours—a matter on which Manmohan Singh, for example, was exceptionally accommodating.)

Remember what Congress made of Modi’s “hugplomacy”? (Its’ another matter that Rahul Gandhi hugged Modi without provocation in the Parliament). They even brought out a sneering video.  Rahul Gandhi thought Modi was on a foreign tour spree because “bans on him are now lifted.” Digvijay Singh put it down to Modi’s love for tour-dals.

None of the newspapers or opposition made fuss about Rahul Gandhi often disappearing on foreign tours secretly. In 2015, he went on a trip to 4 southeast nations for 60 days;  when Congress stitched an alliance with JD (S) in Karnataka, he promptly disappeared; indeed the joke is that the scion of Gandhi dynasty mostly lived abroad till 2014 and only visited India for summer vacations.  Most of such foreign jaunts were secrets: though it all changed when he began the “serious exercise” of interacting with global thinkers, technocrats and politicians (like in US last year). The joke though is that the conferences were on “artificial intelligence.”

Lalu Yadav termed Modi as an NRI; Pinaryi Vijayan viewed his Israel visit as alliance with a terrorist nation; Kejriwal, as usual, couldn’t have remained silent; but don’t be surprised that Chandrababu Naidu zipped his mouth on the matter—the Andhra Pradesh CM is notorious for his foreign visits.

Did you ever hear these odious forces praising Modi for making Saudi Arabia release 850 Indian prisoners in one go? Or that India is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world? How much increased foreign exchange earnings it has brought: the easing off visa process; e-visa profusion etc? Did they praise Modi for the balancing act he managed between traditional rivals such as Saudi Arabia and Iran; US and Russia; Israel and Palestine?

But don’t you think all are silent even in the aftermath of Pulwama and Balakot. Arundhati Roy is condemning Modi for “internationalizing” Kashmir issue. Roy calls India’s actions “reckless.” Kejriwal of course hinted that Pulwama was staged. The less said about Mehbooba Mufti or Omar Abdullah the better. None of them would point that Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) invited India even if it meant rebuking Pakistan.

Modi is right: from being anti-Modi, similar forces are now anti-India.

More by Ashish Shukla