Cites US cable that says he rules by ‘fear and intimidation’

The BJP was left red-faced on Tuesday as WikiLeaks denied that its founder Julian Assange had ever endorsed the principal opposition party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as “incorruptible”.

In a series of tweets, the whistleblower website disclosed a secret cable by a senior US diplomat eight years ago that described Modi as a “distrustful person” who reigns more by “fear and intimidation”.

The website tweeted details of a number of observations made by the then Mumbai-based Consul General Michael S Owen on Modi’s leadership in a cable after his visit to the state in 2006.

“No WikiLeaks document say #Modi is ‘incorruptible’, rather he is popular because ‘viewed’ as ‘incorruptible’,” WikiLeaks said. Wikileaks said the term “incorruptible” was apparently used by a Gujarat Congress leader Manoharsinh Jadeja.

‘Fake endorsement’

“The Narendra #Modi “incorruptible” quote comes from Rajkot Congress party leader Manoharsinh Jadeja,” it said.

In another tweet, WikiLeaks accused BJP of using the “fake Assange-Modi endorsement” to raise funds. WikiLeaks went on to tweet a secret cable sent by the US Embassy in 2006 that criticised Modi’s style of functioning.

“Views remain divided on whether Modi’s leadership style will help or harm him if he enters national politics. In public, Modi can be charming and likable. By all accounts, however, he is an insular, distrustful person... He reigns more by fear and intimidation than by inclusiveness and consensus, and is rude, condescending and often derogatory to even high level party officials. He hoards power...,” one such diplomatic cable under a sub-heading “Modi’s Leadership Style” said.

The clarification came in the wake of some BJP supporters circulating posters in Ahmedabad quoting Assange as saying “America is scared of Modi because he is incorruptible.”

Congress gleeful

The Congress seized the opportunity to heap scorn at the “falsehood” spread by BJP and Modi. Party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Wikileaks episode is an instance of the BJP’s tendency to “spread falsehood”.

“Whichever party or people are spreading falsehood day-in-and-day-out should be ready to face information propagated by somebody else as well. A person who has the passion to play with fire should be ready for immolation,” said Singhvi.

“The basic question is how much falsehood does Modi spread,” he said. “The truth lies buried in the statistics with regard to Gujarat’s Human Development Index and economic growth. The reality is that states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana are in number one position with regard to some parameters while Gujarat is sixth or seventh. But, unlike Gujarat, the Chief Ministers of these states do not go around tom-tomming their achievements.”

The BJP tried to put up a brave front. “We don’t need a certificate from WikiLeaks or Assange on Modiji,” BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said. However, a number of party spokespersons Business Line contacted were dismayed at the unseemly controversy. “This is what happens when unauthorised people assume responsibility for political work. This was totally unnecessary. Why should a leader be dragged into this kind of mess because someone is irresponsible,” said a BJP spokesperson without wishing to be identified.

(This article was published on March 18, 2014)
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