Features

Modi fights back on corruption claims

India’s prime minister is facing calls to resign over his government's dealings with French defence company Dassault.

915-Modi-634

Modi and Ambani: facing questions over defence deal

India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is fighting back amid a scandal over a $9bn arms deal that has seen the prime minister facing calls to resign, says Adam Withnall in the Independent. The scandal relates to a deal struck by Narendra Modi's government in 2016 to buy 36 fighter jets from France's Dassault Aviation. Under Indian regulations, foreign arms companies have to invest at least 30% of the contract with an Indian partner.

India's opposition party, Congress, claims that Dassault chose a company owned by a billionaire industrialist and friend of Modi, Anil Ambani, instead of a more established firm. On Friday, Franois Hollande, French president at the time the deal was struck, said that the Indian government gave France no choice. Modi, who "stormed to power" in 2014 vowing to end corruption, quickly came under attack from the opposition Congress party who said he had no "moral right to remain".

Under pressure to "shore up his political base" ahead of state elections this year and a national election in spring 2019, Modi's response has been to accuse Congress of "working with foreign influences to destabilise India".

However, this is far from Modi's only problem, says the Washington Post. Unemployment, falling farm prices and rural wages and a "demonetisation exercise that sapped liquidity" are all weakening his position. He is still ahead in opinion polls, but the gap is narrowing.

So the launch of a vast new health insurance scheme on Sunday is a "clear electoral pitch" to India's poorest citizens, on whose support he depends, says Hugh Tomlinson in the Times. "Modicare", which is set to cost $1.6bn a year, is designed to help the poorest 40% of India's 1.3 billion population. But questions remain over whether it will work and how much it will cost. Opposition parties say citizens will soon see it for what it is: nothing more than "naked electioneering".

Recommended

The charts that matter: inflation gives markets a scare
Global Economy

The charts that matter: inflation gives markets a scare

Markets took fright this week as it looked like inflation was picking up in the US. Here’s what happened to the charts that matter most to the global …
15 May 2021
Central bank digital currencies: the future of money
Currencies

Central bank digital currencies: the future of money

The rise of cryptocurrencies and a move to cashless payments during the pandemic have left states and central banks playing catch-up. Are new forms of…
14 May 2021
Are we nearing the end of the negative bond yield era?
Government bonds

Are we nearing the end of the negative bond yield era?

As inflation gets going, the era of the negative bond yield – that investors have to pay governments for the privilege of lending them money – might b…
14 May 2021
Is the world at the start of a commodities supercycle?
Commodities

Is the world at the start of a commodities supercycle?

Surging global demand has driven both copper and iron-ore prices to all-time highs.
14 May 2021

Most Popular

How will Joe Biden’s capital gains tax rise affect crypto prices?
Bitcoin & crypto

How will Joe Biden’s capital gains tax rise affect crypto prices?

The US president wants to increase capital gains tax – and that’s going to hit a lot of American cryptocurrency speculators. Saloni Sardana looks at h…
14 May 2021
US stocks look expensive – here’s what to own instead
Investment strategy

US stocks look expensive – here’s what to own instead

Right now, US stocks are among the most expensive in the world. So if you want a decent return on your investments, you should look into diversifying …
17 May 2021
Inheritance tax planning: the rules around gifting
Inheritance tax

Inheritance tax planning: the rules around gifting

There are plenty of legal ways to minimise an inheritance tax bill. Perhaps the simplest is to give away assets to reduce the size of your estate. Dav…
11 May 2021