Govt, BJP in a bind over PNB scam fallout, mull strategy

Govt, BJP in a bind over PNB scam fallout, mull strategy

Govt, BJP in a bind over PNB scam fallout, mull strategy
The unfolding of the PNB scam has dealt a dent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's drive against corruption though no direct political linkages of the accused with the BJP have come to light, admit party leaders. 

But, they hope that by the time Parliament resumes its budget session, the government will have a better grip of the magnitude of the irregularities, with investigators closing in on the perpetrators.

Bracing for a massive Opposition onslaught on the floors of Parliament from March 5, BJP chief Amit Shah has assessed the impact of the Congress campaign against the prime minister so far.

In the last two days, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has sharpened his attacks on Modi since he made the first post on Twitter on the Nirav Modi controversy involving the PNB on February 15.

Rahul said a day ago that "Narendra Modi is not against corruption, he is an instrument of corruption." This has left the BJP with a clear picture of the Congress plan, a BJP leader said. 

Even though this was not the first time Rahul has accused the prime minister directly of corruption, the BJP expected the Congress to mount a  more aggressive campaign.

According to strategists working with Shah, Modi's image may have been affected by the scam but it is not beyond salvage. Also, the BJP leaders said they see "early signs" of the government being in possession of details that could turn the tables when Parliament reopens.
BJP strategy

Shah's strategy now appears to be not respond to Rahul's charges immediately. Hitherto, the BJP fielded senior ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar to counter Rahul's charges on a day-to-day basis.

The BJP is still banking on Modi's "clean image" to take the wind out of the Opposition's sail. "His reputation still is our biggest weapon," said a party aide.

A top BJP functionary held that the CBI and ED investigations were bound to lead to "disclosures" that would not make the Congress leaders very comfortable in the coming days. As his government is in the fourth year, Modi has so far managed to show that his government has not indulged in any big scam. The PNB scam has given strong points to the Congress, but "we will counter it," he said. 

Yet another BJP functionary said the prime minister may no longer appear to be immune to criticism on corruption issue after Nirav Modi's escape. But senior BJP bigwigs count on the law enforcement authorities to bail out the government by taking the severest action against defaulters.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox