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PM Modi feeds on the optics of Nirav Modi arrest, ‘chowkidar’ outreach

  • PM Modi’s outreach puts corruption on the centre stage and strengthens the optics of the BJP’s poll pitch 
  • The day also marked the arrest of diamond tycoon Nirav Modi, accused in a $1.8 billion PNB fraud case

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday accused the opposition parties of insulting ‘chowkidars’ or watchmen with their oft used jibe “Chowkidar Chor Hai", or the watchman is a thief.

Addressing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) outreach campaign on Main Bhi Chowkidar" or “I am a watchman too", Modi identified himself as a chowkidar and sought forgiveness for the hurt caused by the remarks of sections of the opposition.

“I want to apologize as some people in the last few months for their vested interests have run a disinformation campaign against chowkidars’ and abused you by calling you a chor. The have also sought to question your devotion," the prime minister said.

The day also marked the arrest of diamond tycoon Nirav Modi, accused in a $1.8 billion PNB fraud case, in London, following an extradition request.

PM Modi’s outreach and the arrest of the fugitive, just weeks ahead of the 17th general election, puts corruption on the centre stage and at the same time politically strengthens the optics of the BJP’s poll pitch.

Nirav Modi’s arrest could potentially have a political fallout, including blunting the attack of the opposition parties which have often accused the Union government for failing to prevent economic offenders from absconding.

BJP’s high-decibel campaign has come in response to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s oft repeated jibe of ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ or ‘the watchman is the thief’.

The centre piece of Narendra Modi’s address on Wednesday was highlighting how the word ‘chowkidar’ was synonymous to patriotism and honesty as well as reiterating his poll pitch of “kaamdars" (workers) being pitted against “naamdars" (dynasts).

In a veiled attack at Gandhi and the Congress party, PM Narendra Modi added: “No one becomes big because of their name but only because of their work. We have to go really ahead, make our children doctors, engineers, soldiers and prime ministers."

The prime minister has already added the word ‘chowkidar’ to his official Twitter handle and all the key Union ministers and top leaders of BJP including party president Amit Shah and finance minister Arun Jaitley have followed suit. With Modi’s attack on Wednesday, the BJP is now expected to aggressively raise its pitch on the anti-corruption narrative particularly the ‘chowkidar’ campaign in the backdrop of Nirav Modi’s arrest.

Hours after Nirav Modi’s arrest, Congress’s newly appointed general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said this credit should not accrue to the government, since they were the ones who let him flee.

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