Tuesday, April 16, 2024

“Scoremongering…dangerous”, Jaishankar takes on Soros

A day after Union Minister Smriti Irani blasted billionaire investor George Soros for his remarks on prime minister Narendra Modi, her colleague, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, has also hit out at the 92-year-old, calling him “old, rich, opinionated, and dangerous”, and someone who “still thinks that his views should determine how the entire world works.”

Addressing a session with Australian Minister Chris Brown at the Raisina@Sydney Dialogue, Jaishankar said, “Mr Soros is an old, rich opinionated person sitting in New York who still thinks that his views should determine how the entire world works…such people actually invest resources in shaping narratives.”

Jaishnkar said ‘people like him’ think an election is good if the person they want to see, wins, and if the election throws up a different outcome, then they will say it is a flawed democracy. 

“And the beauty is that all this is done under the pretence of advocacy of open society,” the External Affairs Minister said.

The Hungarian-American businessman, who established the Open Society Foundations to ‘promote democratic governance’, had said PM Modi “is no democrat”, alleging that “inciting violence against Muslims was an important factor in his meteoric rise”.

Singling out Soros on a broader question regarding ‘casual comments’ on undermining of democracy in India, S Jaishankar said he (Mr Soros) “actually thinks that it doesn’t matter that this is a country of 1.4 billion people — we are almost that — whose voters decide how the country should run.” 

“It worries us. We are a country that went through colonialism, we know the dangers of what happens when there’s outside interference,” he added.

On Soros’s remark that PM Modi was not a democrat, the foreign minister pointed to his earlier comments on alleged threat to Muslims’ citizenship in India, calling it “ridiculous”.

“Mr Soros said India is a democratic country, but he doesn’t think the Prime Minister of India is a democrat. He earlier accused us of planning to strip millions of Muslims of their citizenship which of course didn’t happen, it was a ridiculous suggestion,” the minister said in Sydney.

“If you do this kind of scaremongering…millions of people will be deprived of citizenship. It actually does real damage to the societal fabric because somebody out there believes you. You create that kind of fear psychosis,” he added.

He also termed Soros’s comments “typical of a Euro Atlantic view”.

He said there was “a debate and conversation that we must have on democracy”, including whose values defined a democracy as the world rebalanced and became less Euro Atlantic.

Smriti Irani yesterday called upon Indians to unitedly respond to ‘foreign powers who try to intervene in India’s democratic processes’. 

Calling Soros’s remark a ‘declaration to destroy India’s democratic processes’, she said Indians have defeated such ‘foreign powers’ who tried to meddle with our internal affairs earlier as well, and will do so again. “I urge every Indian to give a fitting reply to George Soros,” she said.

“The man who broke the Bank of England, and is designated by the nation an economic war criminal, has now pronounced his desire to break Indian democracy. George Soros, an international entrepreneur, has declared his ill-intention to intervene in democratic processes of India,” she said in her blistering attack.

George Soros, while delivering a speech at the 2023 Munich Security Conference on Thursday, predicted that PM Modi will be weakened by the business troubles of Gautam Adani, whose companies faced a massive stock market rout after US-based short seller Hindenburg released a report accusing the Adani group companies of stock manipulation, “opening the door” to a democratic revival in the country.

PM Modi would “have to answer questions” from foreign investors and parliament on allegations of fraud and stock manipulation at Adani’s industrial empire, Soros said, noting that PM Modi had been “silent” on the topic.

Hindenburg accused the Adani group of engaging in “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud” over decades. The Adani Group has dismissed the allegations as baseless.

The Adani group has lost $125 billion in market capitalisation since the release of the Hindenburg report on January 24.

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