In a big boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s #MainBhiChowkidaar campaign launched with an eye on a second term in office, the former Mumbai-based diamond merchant and jewellery designer Nirav Modi — prime accused in the Rs 11,360 crore banking fraud reported by the Punjab National Bank (PNB) — was arrested on March 20 in London, after about 17 months of apparently being on the run.
After 17 months of being out and about, Nirav Modi has finally been arrested in London. (Source: TV grab)
Now, Nirav Modi will be produced before a London court later in the day.
The arrest is being seen as India getting one step closer to having the businessman extradited to face trial.
The Modi government had drawn criticism when the PNB fraud hit headlines and it came to light that Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Chowksi had left the country after reported involvement in the PNB case.
When Modi launched the 'MainBhiChowkidaar' campaign as an answer to Congress president Rahul Gandhi's repeated barbs of “Chowkidaar chor hai”, he told citizens that he will ensure such fugitives are brought back to the country and held to account.
The arrest, interestingly, comes just days after Nirav Modi was tracked by TV channels in London.
The diamond merchant's arrest is a huge boost to Modi's poll campaign. (Source: India Today)
With millions of people joining the #MainBhiChowkidaar group on Twitter, the BJP decided to go full-throttle in pushing the campaign and blunting Rahul Gandhi’s repeated charges of the Modi government apparently supporting both the corrupt and corruption.
Even as the campaign was launched, the Congress and several Opposition parties tried to corner the BJP — asking about Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya.
On February 4, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed an order to extradite Mallya to India. Mallya has since appealed in a higher court. Nevertheless, the move was seen as a big development for India. Experts then said the entire procedure to bring back Mallya to India may take at least seven-eight months if he uses all his legal options.
The relentless pursuit India has launched to bring back those who have reportedly defrauded the country’s financial institutions is being seen as a huge positive for Modi’s ‘Na Khaunga, Na Khane Dunga’ poll promise — made during the 2014 election campaign.
#NiravConfrontedIndia Today tracks Nirav Modi in London. #NewsToday live with @sardesairajdeep: https://t.co/4fqxBVUizL pic.twitter.com/rtzN8txNfo— India Today (@IndiaToday) March 19, 2019
Before Nirav Modi went missing from the country in 2018, he was seen with Prime Minister Modi at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The diamantaire was part of a delegation of Indian businessmen and corporate leaders that accompanied the Prime Minister.
The development had caused huge embarrassment to the BJP back then.
But now, as Modi and his lieutenants, who are all calling themselves chowkidaar, go to town with the #MainBhiChowkidaar campaign, Nirav Modi’s arrest and the developments in Mallya’s extradition case will add credibility to the promise of fighting corruption in high places.
Nirav Modi is likely to get bail soon, just like Vijay Mallya did — but the arrest does give an impression that the Modi government is serious about bringing back fraudsters to face the law of the land. That does send out a very positive message to the voters.