Vol. XLIII No. 24 June 16, 2019

The Foreign Hand in Modi’s Re-election

B Arjun

PAKISTAN and China showered their respective bombs and benedictions on India in the midst of election season. The Pakistani establishment presented Pulwama on a platter for Modi to respond with Balakot air strikes. China filled Modi’s election kit by ensuring that Masood Azhar is placed in the international terrorist list.

The twin external influences strengthened the sentiment across the country that Modi is a decisive leader who has made India stand tall in the comity of nations. The spread of this sentiment played a crucial role in Modi’s spectacular victory in the recently concluded general elections. 

Paradoxically, the timings of the Pulwama attack, just before the election fever kicked off and the Chinese decision to finally relent on Masood Azhar issue were perfectly timed to boost Modi’s fledging election campaign.

The proposition that both Pulwama and Masood Azhar were tailor-made to impact election outcomes in India demands greater scrutiny. If a country as big as America can probe Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections, there is no reason to discard the external influences on Indian democratic choice. Russia is blamed for cyber interventions in shaping American minds in favour of President Trump. If American democracy can be penetrated, then imagine the extent to which elections can be manipulated.

The question to ask is, why should Pakistan and China be interested in the return of Modi? After all, Modi had brazenly mixed foreign policy with militarism against both the neighbours. On Pakistan’s Pulwama connection, some say that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, inadvertently bowled a full toss, giving enough room to Modi to take the aerial route to score a Balakot. Nevertheless, Khan’s unforced error allowed Modi to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Those who believe in these hypotheses, primarily move on the assumption that both Khan and ISI are naive and incapable of visualising the impact of terror attack in Kashmir on Modi’s ability to use them to further fan Islamophobia among Hindu electorate and consolidate his vote bank.

Alternatively, it is argued that strategic imperatives compelled the Pakistan army to help Modi win the elections. It decided to launch Pulwama attack during the election season for its own need to retain its preeminent position within the Pakistani State. Without an aggressive dispensation in India that is perceived to be anti-Islam, it is difficult for Pakistan military complex to sell itself to its people. However, the angle which lies unexplored is the alleged role of American intelligence agency in cahoots with Mossad in luring or fooling either the ISI, the Pakistan agency or their non-State proxies in Pakistan, in launching an attack on Pulwama. It is not to be forgotten that America exercises tremendous influence on the Pakistani military and on the number of non-State outfits that operate within Pakistan.

The understanding of Pulwama or any other terror attacks cannot remain limited to the complicity of the Pakistan State and non-State agencies. It is convenient to blame political Islam for all the violence and terrorism. The fact is that terrorism has only resulted in demonisation and disintegration of Islam and its biggest beneficiary has been the right-wing conservatism, which has grown exponentially around the world since the 9/11 attacks. One needs to probe the role of the international alt-right populist movement in using terrorism and violence to promote its capture of state after state.

United Arab Emirates (UAE), a strategic ally of the United States, was the other Islamic nation that added to Modi’s aggressive election campaign by facilitating the opening of a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi by Modi in the middle of elections. This event was designed to signal to Modi’s communal and casteist vote bank that it is only Modi who could achieve opening a temple in the heart of Islamic world. And if he could achieve it in Abu Dhabi, then having a temple at Ayodhya is a cake walk.

The generous gift by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Prime Minister Imran Khan to Prime Minister Modi, whose domestic politics is rooted in Islamophobia, could not have happened without the American interventions at the crucial moment. Both the Pakistani as well elites of the UAE remain beholden to American empire.

The crux is that America wanted Modi back as India’s prime minister because he had largely played ball with them in his previous term. Modi’s dictatorial style appeals to the American establishment that has always found it less cumbersome to deal with dictators in the peripheries. It is in this light that the coming together of the two Islamic nations to help Modi win becomes less perplexing.


It is reported that China wanted to deal with Maulana Masood Azhar’s issue after May 15 due to the Lok Sabha elections in India but was pressurised to advance the date after America refused to budge beyond April 30. France, Russia and the UK brokered a deal between China and USA. The American interest in helping Modi add another feather to his cap during the gruelling election season is understandable.

But the intriguing question still is why did China agree to give-up its obduracy on Masood Azhar? What deal was struck between USA and China or what transacted between India and China? The answer to these questions will remain locked up in the archives for a long time. But this does give us a concrete evidence that America did intervene to build Modi’s image as a tall leader.

Modi’s first return gift to the Americans, after his re-election, is the appointment of  an external affair minister, S Jaishankar, who is known to have promoted the securitisation of India’s foreign policy and is keen to further “cultivate America” in order to “manage China”. This probably reassures the Americans that Modi will not deviate and continue to serve their imperial interests while wearing a nationalist robe.

Election meddling is not a grey area for the CIA. They are masters in regime management across the globe. As early as 1948, the CIA subverted democracy by extending full support, to the Christian Democrats, through covert and overt means, in order to ensure the defeat of the socialist Democrats. The role played by CIA dollars and hitmen in running influence campaigns in Guatemala, Indonesia, South Vietnam, Afghanistan, and beyond are now well documented in the Pulitzer Prize winner, Tim Winer’s books, Enemies: A History of the FBI and Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.

India has never been immune against CIA’s dirty work. Way back in 1967, George Fernandes raised questions in the Lok Sabha on the use of PL480 funds by CIA to influence election results in India. The charges were never proved and they will never get proved in the future. 

In 2018, The Economic Times reported that Philip N Howard, a professor of Internet studies at the Oxford Internet institute, stated that after alleged “'meddling' with the 2016 US presidential election, Russian hackers may soon make their way to the upcoming general elections in India.” The fact is that one doesn’t need to perform clandestine cyber operations to influence elections in India. There are several Western public relations firms, business intelligence and consultancy companies that are deeply engaged in managing Indian political data and advising political outfits on mergers and splits before and after the polls. Modi’s election victory has exposed the true colours of capitalist democracy. The local capitalists and external forces have blatantly worked together to ensure that India is ruled by a populist right-wing, authoritarian leader who works to sustain the US empire.