India Elections 2024 (Part IV) – OpEd


2024 a watershed election, will ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance manage to dent Modi’s electoral prospects?

It is not just the opposition parties in India that are waiting in the wings for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fall. There are bigger and more powerful global forces at work to destabilize India, those who understand well that they can mess with India only if Modi is voted out of power.

With half the planet, comprising an electorate of more than four billion people, going to polls this year, 2024 is definitely a unique and historical year. And, among the countries going in for elections this year, the Indian elections would be amongst the most keenly watched. This is so not because India alone has almost a billion people going to vote this time, but because India has catapulted itself to a premium position on the global center stage and become an eyesore to many. So much so that only two days ago, on May 2nd, US President Joe Biden took many by surprise at an election fund-raiser meeting when he labeled India as “xenophobic because it does not welcome immigrants”. He also described the Indian economy as “faltering”.

The US may deny, but the loaded statement by Biden was an attempt to influence the Indian elections. Millions of Indian families live under western influence and for them a statement coming from Biden carries high credibility. The attempt, quite obviously, was to tar the global image of Modi as the statement definitely has the potential to cast a shadow on the psychology of the Indian voter. 

It is important to understand that having failed in their attempts so far, this powerful  ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance which is an ‘elite club of white men’ was left with no option but to ‘use’ the US President to try and bring down Modi. Biden’s statement is a part of this false but powerful anti-India and anti-Modi narrative being carved out to ensure Modi doesn’t return to power with a third term. It is clear that the Alliance wants a less aggressive Prime Minister in India this time and will use every trick in the book to ensure this.

India’s External affairs minister S. Jaishankar has promptly rebutted Biden’s statement and said that the Indian economy is growing leaps and bounds and India has always been open and welcoming to people from diverse societies.

In recent weeks, Jaishankar has snatched every available opportunity to speak out against the false narrative being created by a section of the western media, and this time he backed it up with an example of the ongoing protests at US universities. This column’s author too had last week written about how western media moguls have tried to influence the Indian election by creating a concocted and baseless campaign against Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Irrespective of the unfounded and baseless narration that the Alliance is trying to build, India has been the fastest-growing major economy in the world in the last five years; it has become the fifth-largest global economy last year and is now poised to transform into the third-largest.

This anti-Modi smear campaign has not been launched overnight. Obviously, the growth story of India is unpalatable to the biggies. Soon as Modi snatched away the Kashmir lever (in August 2019 by abrogating Article 370) that was being used since Independence by foreign powers to blackmail India, Khalistan started raising its fangs all over again, there was fresh unrest in Punjab everyday and sensitive states like Manipur and Ladakh erupted. 

Most powerful lobbies of the world have come together to carve out this narrative. These lobbies include major media houses, international agencies that claim to monitor world economies, global lending agencies that dole out ratings and the governments of these powerful nations themselves. What bigger example could there have been than the US President making a statement labeling India ‘xenophobic’ and with a ‘faltering economy’.  Hand in glove with them are some of India’s own homespun media houses, left-backed NGOs and opposition parties. And because the stakes are so high, there is no dearth of funds that are being funneled into these campaigns.

In a  recent viral video, Jaishankar had quipped – “ ..The West is not just interested … but interfering in 2024 Indian general elections”. He is right. It is clear that the ‘Five Eyes’ bloc is funding campaigns that are intended to ensure that, one, Modi’s full-throttle attention is diverted from the current elections; and two, that international pressure is built up against him at various global fora which will impact the Indian voter.

So, what exactly are the latest charges being made against Modi and by whom ? When the western media’s hate campaign and Modi-bashing calling him authoritarian, a Hitler, anti-democracy, etc failed miserably, the Alliance decided to change track. Suddenly, in more recent times, media reports emanating from Canada, UK, US, New Zealand and Australia (countries constituting the Five Eye Intelligence Alliance) have gone all out trying to damage the international image of the Modi government, accusing it of involvement in killing of Bhindranwale Tiger Force terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, plot to assassinate proscribed terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the US, murder of Khalistan Liberation Force terrorist Avtar Singh Khanda in the UK and neutralizing anti-India terrorists in Pakistan.

It is evident that no effort is being spared to influence the Indian electorate to vote against Modi, blemishing the Indian national security apparatus and accusing the Modi government of strategizing the above incidents behind-the-scenes. Needless to add, these foreign media reports have been debunked forcefully by the Ministry of External Affairs. 

A legitimate question is why a dreaded terrorist named Pannun enjoys impunity in the US ? Khalistani militant Pannun is a dreaded terrorist who had in the beginning of 2024 released a video in which he threatened to assassinate Prime Minister Modi. Pannu has also called for the killing of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann. In November 2023, he threatened to blow up Air India passenger planes. 

Why, then, is the US government and media not reacting to the vicious threats of Pannun to eliminate the Prime Minister of a country and hijack planes filled with hundreds of innocent lives ? Would the superpower do the same to a terrorist who threatened their own President’s life or the lives of hundreds of innocents in their own country ?

India has been seeking action against Khalistani and other funding of separatist movements from outside India, but since no action has been taken by the Alliance nations, there has been no choice but to strengthen India’s own counter-terrorism network. Terror groups sponsored by the Pakistan deep state are now being monitored more closely than ever before by the Indian agencies.

Finally, it was in November 2023 that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) booked designated ‘individual terrorist’ Pannun under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, for allegedly threatening passengers flying via Air India The Ministry of Home Affairs had, in July 2019, already banned his organization ‘Sikhs For Justice’ under the UAPA for its separatist and anti-national activities.

The run-up to book Pannun under UAPA had been difficult, for which the government had to make serious amendments to the Act. In August 2019, the President of India gave assent to amendments to the UAPA Act, 2019 wherein individuals could be declared as terrorists. The amendments also give far-reaching powers to the Director General of the top agency National Investigation Agency to attach properties acquired from proceeds of terrorism. Consequently,  after the amendments to UAPA, the Indian government declared a list of 57 terrorists wanted under the Act and Pannun was one of them.

This entire exercise of amending the UAPA Act, 2019 was of utmost importance because till 2014, thousands of innocent civilians and jawans were losing lives in well-orchestrated jihadi operations. The MHA had asserted that the UAPA Law needs amendment as by not designating individuals as terrorists, we were giving them an opportunity to circumvent the law and they were simply gathering under a different name and keeping up their terror activities. 

With the passing of the new amendment, Indian intelligence agencies are now able to defang the terrorist plots in India, upsetting the plans of the ‘Five Eyes’ bloc that wanted Indian intelligence to remain at their mercy and dependent on them for their counter-terrorism systems. So far, India was being simply handed over the list of terrorists on its own soil, and was also being fed with scraps of intelligence doled out by interested parties. The game was reversed with one of the best intelligence brains ever in the country, Ajit Doval, who came as National Security Advisor to Modi and brought with him an able team of sleuths who could penetrate and tear apart the Alliance’s gameplan. 

On April 29, 2024, the Washington Post made serious allegations against India that an official of India’s spy agency plotted the killing of a US-based Sikh separatist leader. Immediately, the MEA swung into action and dismissed the report, calling it an “unwarranted and unsubstantiated” accusation.

The truth is that the Alliance has tried every possible way to derange the Indian election and there have been reports of how the major opposition party – the Indian National Congress – has been in touch with many country missions in Delhi and overseas, especially of the ‘enemy nations’. The overseas visits of these opposition leaders were facilitated by the Alliance, it is being said.

To hit Modi, the western media is also attacking his blue-eyed boy and supersleuth Doval who has consistently raised the Khalistani issue and has labeled these terrorists including Pannun, Khanda and Nijjar as ‘intelligence assets of the Five Eyes alliance’. 

The premise of the West, along with China and Pakistan, is that such media reports will damage PM Modi’s electoral prospects in 2024 elections, without realizing that the reaction among public is actually quite the opposite because India has waited very long for a determined nationalist leader like Modi. In the last ten years, a confident Modi has changed the rules of the game and, instead of playing defensive, has declared that he will go all out to exterminate the terrorist camps in enemy nations on their home turf.

In India, the suspense over who will form the next government will end on June 4, when results will be out. As voting gets underway, Modi is transmitting supreme confidence, so much so that he has already instructed top bureaucrats to start preparing a hundred-day roadmap to guide his third term.

Modi’s confidence is clear from the decision of his party BJP to extend invitations to over 25 political parties from foreign countries to visit India during the election time and observe India’s Lok Sabha elections. 

Modi is here to stay. It is for the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance and their media surrogates to come to terms with this new world order.

Manoranjana Gupta

Manoranjana Gupta is a Journalist, TV opinion leader, and a Special Advisor for GDKP in India, at the Center for Digital Future, Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism under the University of Southern California.

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