Just a little over a year in power, the Modi government is gradually becoming dysfunctional, its members pulling in different directions, highly placed sources within it indicated on Thursday. Increasing controls in different sectors, economic or otherwise — often triggered by a proactive media — these sources said, were contributing to hurting India’s image, even scaring away foreign investors.
At the centre of this controversy are Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the former seen as the most liberal face of the government; the latter, a former BJP president, and perceived to be a RSS favourite.
For instance, the proscribing of “India’s Daughter”, the controversial BBC documentary on the horrific 2012 gangrape of Nirbhaya, earlier this year, sources in government said, was a mistake. First, the ban did not prevent people from viewing it as it immediately surfaced on the video sharing website, YouTube, notching up a lakh views before it was removed, only to have other links springing up. Then there is the Sun TV case, where the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, also headed by Mr. Jaitley, and the Union Home Ministry have clashed. The MHA has equated the economic offences that Sun TV has been charged with as affecting national security, while the I and B ministry’s view is that, with the courts granting a stay in the case, the move to exclude such a big company from participating in the FM auctions sends out a negative signal.
Indeed, during Mr. Jaitley’s visit to the US last month, a number of foreign investors spoke to him of disappointment over the Modi government’s slow progress in meeting expectations in three key policy areas — steps to clean up India’s image on the “tax terrorism” front, the inability to build consensus and push through the land bill despite a majority in Parliament and no major steps to develop a market for bonds. “Investors politely but firmly expressed dissatisfaction,” said a source present at the meetings.