Modi will crush civil liberties in next 3 years: Arun Shourie

Arun Shourie, the veteran journalist and minister in the previous National Democratic Alliance government, said on Friday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is narcissistic and is running a one-man presidential-style government, the direction of which was dangerous for India.

In a TV interview, Shourie, a cabinet minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government who has drifted away from the Bharatiya Janata Party, called the NDA dispensation a presidential government without checks or balances. He added that the direction of the government under Modi's supervision was not good for India.

Shourie warned that over the next three years, he expected a more systematic attempt to curb civil liberties and an increase in decentralised intimidation, and a choking of inconvenient voices.

He accused Modi of narcissism, which he described as a combination of self-love and insecurity, as well as Machiavellism, which meant that he exploited events to his benefit.

The former minister said the PM's attitude towards people was to "use and throw" them. "He treats people like paper napkins and is remorseless," he alleged.

Shourie also referred to the raging controversy over the AgustaWestland helicopter deal and criticised the Modi government for not appealing against the acquittal by the Italian trial court of the company's two former chiefs Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini.

According to him, the reference by the Italian appeals court judge to India being unhelpful in the matter was specific to the Modi government.

Shourie used a Hindi metaphor to describe defence minister Manohar Parrikar's speech in the Rajya Sabha on the Agusta deal: "It was like digging a mountain to find not a mouse, but an invisible chuha (mouse)."

He compared Modi's two years as PM as a boxing match with everybody and said he had not had the focus that was expected of him. "This was a great opportunity completely missed," he added.

The former minister said one of the problems was that Modi was getting inputs from very few people and they were, additionally, the people he had himself chosen.

Shourie claimed to see a clear line of logic linking ghar-wapsi, love-jihad, beef ban, the return of awards, campaign against anti-nationalism, focus on 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and student protests. "This was deliberately orchestrated by the government," he claimed.

Shourie said the intention was to create confrontation and polarisation. He accused Modi of deliberately dividing India, along a policy of divide and rule.

He accepted that under the Modi regime, corruption at the centre had diminished, but cited instances of corruption in states. He said nothing had been done deliberately in the states as he went on to enumerate the Vyapam scandal, the Lalit Modi episode and the Saradha scam.

Shourie also castigated the Modi government for having placed two Congress-ruled states of Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh under President's rule, calling it "unconstitutional".

"The deliberate BJP policy of attracting and inviting defectors will undermine the party," he said.

Shourie criticised the Modi government on foreign relations too, especially Pakistan. "We have made fools of ourselves in the eyes of Pakistan." Shourie said there was no consistency or logic to Modi's Pakistan policy, which had confused India. He criticised what he considered "U-turns in handling Pakistan".