In an embarrassment to the Bharatiya Janata Party, whistleblower Julian Assange’s Wikileaks has clarified in a series of tweets that US diplomatic cables released by it in 2011 never described Narendra Modi as “incorruptible” or the “lone honest Indian politician”.
Wikileaks tweeted: “Narendra Modi’s BJP has been pushing this fake #Modi endorsement… but Assange has never said anything about #Modi.”
Instead, the incorruptible bit comes from Rajkot Congress party leader Manoharsinh Jadej who had said that Modi “is viewed as someone who is completely incorruptible and can deliver the goods”, Wikileaks noted.
Wikileaks further tweeted: “#India: No WikiLeaks document say #Modi is ‘incorruptable’, rather he is popular because ‘viewed’ as ‘incorruptable’…”
The BJP has downplayed the tweets. “We don’t need a certificate from Wikileaks or Assange on Modiji,” a tweet by news agency ANI quoted BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi as saying.
The controversy goes back to 2006, when US diplomat and Mumbai consular general Michael S Owen, WikiLeaks reported, had met Modi.
That meeting was the last an US diplomat met Modi, starting a freeze that ended with US ambassador Nancy Powell meeting the Gujarat chief minister in Gandhinagar this February. The US had denied Modi a diplomatic visa in 2005 — a fallout of its boycott of Modi because of the 2002 riots.
The Wikileaks cable had reported that Owen and Modi discussed Gujarat’s development, investment in the state as well as communalism. Owen’s note in the cable had also said, “Modi is clearly not going to apologize or back down on the violence of 2002 (but)…We believe Sinhji’s comment on Modi are indeed accurate…”