Why Modi Un­com­fort­able With Rus­sia

The Day After - - FROM THE EDI­TOR'S DESK - By SuNil DANg Feed­back on:re­porter@dayaf­terindia.com

When In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi paid an of­fi­cial visit to Rus­sia in May 2018 many eye­brows were raised as the visit was an­nounced in the wake of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s uni­lat­eral de­ci­sion to come out of Iran Deal. How­ever, what fol­lowed after Modi put his feet in Moscow was more as­ton­ish­ing as many pro­to­cols were bro­ken to make the In­dian PM feel at home. In fact, Vladimir Putin him­self came to see off Modi when he was leav­ing for New Delhi from Rus­sia.

The global po­lit­i­cal ob­servers at that time had ex­pressed the grow­ing In­dian im­age in the geo-po­lit­i­cal stage be­hind this Rus­sian warmth for In­dian PM. This warmth was vis­i­ble again when Putin came for his two days visit to In­dia re­cently when he went out of turn and hugged Modi while pos­ing for me­dia. Once again po­lit­i­cal ob­servers re­peated the same de­cod­ing of body lan­guages of both lead­ers. But, I have a dif­fer­ent take, es­pe­cially the way In­dian PM launched at­tack on the Congress Party after tak­ing over from Dr Manmohan Singh in New Delhi with jibe like ‘Congress Mukt Bharat.’

If we go by de­cline in net per­cent­age of In­dian de­fense deal with Rus­sia, then we would get some fig­ures, which is alarm­ing for Rus­sia. When Naren­dra Modi took oath in 2014, In­dia used to do near 84 per­cent of its de­fense shop­ping from Rus­sia which has de­clined up to around 72 per­cent. In fact, in this pe­riod, In­dia has in­creased its de­fense shop­ping in the US from 10 per­cent to around 14 per­cent. It has also opened de­fense shop­ping win­dow in Is­rael, France and Ger­many. Ac­tu­ally, be­fore Modi, In­dia used to do de­fense deals with its all-weather-friend coun­tries but after Modi, there is some tweak in In­dian diplo­macy. Now, In­dia has started to make new friends through de­fense deals. So, In­dia be­ing a big de­fense mar­ket for Rus­sia is prob­a­bly one of the ma­jor rea­sons for Putin go­ing out of turn to show warmth for Modi.

There is one more an­gle to it, which I think is play­ing one of the big role in Modi not feel­ing as com­fort­able with Rus­sia as he is with coun­tries like the US, France, Ger­many, Is­rael etc. Prob­a­bly, Modi has a feel­ing that In­dia and Rus­sia have had a strong diplo­matic bond for near 65-70 years. In­dia un­der Pt. Nehru de­vel­oped strong bi-lat­eral ties with Rus­sia, which fur­ther pros­pered dur­ing Indira Gandhi and Ra­jiv Gandhi’s ten­ure. When PV Nar­simha Rao took over, the global po­lit­i­cal set-up had changed after the in­cep­tion of WTO. So, Rao opened the In­dian Em­bassy in Tel Aviv rec­og­niz­ing Is­rael as a sov­er­eign na­tion. This pol­icy was fur­ther fol­lowed dur­ing the NDA and UPA regime as the Manmohan Singh gov­ern­ment de­cided to make it sim­ple after Yasir Arafat’s death by send­ing a low key min­is­ter to his funeral. But, over the tenures of all these post Ra­jiv regimes, Rus­sia was kept in good faith.

Since, en­tire Congress rule was un­der the con­trol of Gandhi-Nehru fam­ily, Modi has a feel­ing that some moles in the Rus­sian sys­tem might work as in­form­ers to the prin­ci­pal op­po­si­tion party back home deny­ing him the po­lit­i­cal mileage, which he as­pires to at­tain in the com­ing polls. Hence, he is try­ing to nur­ture some new geo-po­lit­i­cal av­enues where he can find some al­ter­na­tives to Rus­sia as these na­tions have re­mained alien to In­dian diplo­macy. His at­tempt to tap African Latin Amer­i­can na­tions should be seen through these specs. He doesn’t want to share any of his moves with the op­po­si­tion and hence he is not as warm to Rus­sia as Rus­sia is to­wards Naren­dra Modi.

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