The politics of getting Mallya, Nirav Modi back in India

    Activists of the youth wing of India's main opposition Congress party burn a cut-out with an image of billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi during a protest in Mumbai, India, February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas - RC13DAC7C220

    It appears that the heat has finally been turned on Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, the two high-profile businessmen who have escaped abroad after being accused of large-scale financial irregularities in conducting their businesses. India has succeeded in getting a red corner notice from Interpol against Nirav Modi, and Mallya is desperate to settle the issue of payments amounting to several hundred crores he owes to various banks in the country.

    A letter has surfaced written by Mallya to the Prime Minister’s Office where he claimed that he was tired of the constant hounding he faced and was willing to make all strenuous efforts to settle the dues. But of course his commitment cannot be taken at face value; while he wrote the letter two years ago, he has not made any real effort since then to pay up. Much depends on the outcome of the legal fight he is engaged in, in a London court. If it is negative for Mallya, he will be deported to India and will face the consequences of his actions here.

    As for Nirav Modi, it is only a matter of time before he is traced and brought back. If the two businessmen return to India, it will be a major achievement for the Union Government which has faced flak from the opposition for ‘allowing’ the two to escape despite their facing serious charges. While it is true that the Government has not been able to satisfactorily explain how the two managed to get away, it’s also a fact that it has made sincere efforts to get them back. In London the Indian team has put up a strong case for Mallya’s deportation, and the Interpol alert for Nirav Modi is a manifestation of the Indian authorities’ doggedness to lay their hands on the man.

    From the Narendra Modi Government’s perspective, their early return could not come at a better time — the Lok Sabha election is due in less than a year’s time and the Government as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party could display their return as a triumph of the regime’s strategy and burnish its image of a Government that does not let culprits get away. Most of Mallya’s and Nirav Modi’s activities that are under the scanner happened during the Congress-led UPA’s rule, and both the party and the Manmohan Singh regime cannot escape responsibility for it. But then, that is the past; what happens now will shape the politics of today.


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