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Christian Michel extradition, Mallya’s offer to repay loans give ballast to Narendra Modi’s final act in Rajasthan campaign

It could be no more than coincidence, but less than 12 hours after Christian Michel, the middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, was extradited from Dubai to New Delhi, Vijay Mallya made an offer to India via Twitter that he was willing to settle his dues, apparently just the principal amount for now. But the timing of his call of conscience is interesting and has its own meaning.

Mallya must be aware of developments in the extradition proceedings of Michel and his landing in Delhi, as also the scenario of him being put through the rigour of custodial interrogation and possibly an extended term in jail. He had possible also heard of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement at a public rally asserting that “those who ran away thought they would be saved, but they should know that this is Modi. Whoever has looted my country, I will bring them back one by one”.

Mallya’s current offer to pay the principal and forgo the interest — an offer he claims he has been making since 2016 — will obviously not be acceptable to the government, agencies and the banks concerned. What he did not mention in his tweet is the fact that the Westminster court is expected to deliver its verdict on December 10.

The possibility of the court ruling for his extradition must be frightening to him but even then given to a high-society lifestyle, flamboyance and entitlement, he is seeking special treatment for himself:

While speaking to CNN-News18, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had a simple message to convey for Mallya: “Now it’s Mallya and Nirav Modi’s turn”. Jaitley was speaking in context of Michel’s extradition, something the Modi government will look at as a feather in its cap in the war on corruption.

Michel’s extradition to India is undoubtedly a big achievement of the Government of India. It remains to be seen what revelations he make before investigative agencies and before courts about bribes paid to bureaucrats and senior politicians belonging to the then ruling Congress. If the London court orders the extradition of Mallya next week, the Modi government and the ruling BJP will have a lot to cheer.It will take months or even years for the courts to come to a conclusion on the case, but Modi was quick to take it to the people’s court, claiming credit and seeking an instant verdict.

It would be unrealistic to assume that the issue and Modi’s oratory thrust could swing the electoral outcome of the Rajasthan Assembly election but the move and the way this has been executed — the foreign middleman brought to India — will go in Modi’s personal credit kitty. Michel’s extradition will help the prime minister to strengthen his image as a tough administrator who will not spare the high and mighty while taking on the corrupt and corruption. During the course of travel to Rajasthan for the coverage of these elections, this writer met several people who believed that Modi was “sincerely working to uproot corruption and make the corrupt” face the tough side of the law.On the last day of campaigning, getting Michel on Indian soil provided the right occasion and platform for Modi to blast the Gandhi family for its alleged corrupt deeds in the National Herald case and Robert Vadra’s land scam. The Supreme Court’s decision not to give Sonia and Rahul Gandhi any relief in the National Herald case was mentioned at length by Modi.

His central message was that he feared no one because people had mandated him to take on the corrupt and corruption of all hues and in all places. P Chidambaram, the most prominent minister of the UPA-1 and UPA-2 was also mentioned by Modi, who claimed that the senior Congress leader would soon be lodged in a jail.

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