Soon after billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi came under investigators’ radars this week for what is likely one of the biggest scams to hit Indian banking, social media was flooded with “Finding NiMo” jokes. The wordplay got further currency on Friday morning as two major English newspapers built their lead headlines around the “NiMo” acronym for Nirav Modi.
As Indian investigating agencies seek Interpol’s help to find the billionaire, the wordplay on the film Finding Nemo is not the only Nirav Modi joke doing the rounds on social media. The fact that he shares a surname with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and tainted cricket administrator Lalit Modi gave people further fodder.
A picture from Davos in January in which the prime minister is seen with Nirav Modi did not help either, leading to “Chhota Modi” jibes. The Congress had called Nirav Modi “Chhota Modi (Little Modi)” in its press conference on Thursday. Congress President Rahul Gandhi had claimed the diamond merchant had used his clout with Narendra Modi to flee India.
However, most newspapers stayed away from drawing connections with Narendra Modi. The Telegraph was an exception, as its front page minced no words in proclaiming “NiMo” was “NaMo’s baby” – right from the headline to the main picture.
Lalit Modi, the former commissioner of Indian Premier League, found himself the butt of several jokes, as did former liquor baron Vijay Mallya. Thanks to Nirav Modi, they have now also got their own new acronyms, LaMo and ViMa.
Mallya faces several cases in India, and his companies are accused of defaulting on loans of around Rs 9,000 crore. He was arrested in 2017 in London, while India pursues his extradition in British court. Lalit Modi, who allegedly broke rules under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, also continues to be in London, years after the Enforcement Directorate first issued him notices.
Somehow, demonetisation of high-value currency notes by the Narendra Modi government was also dragged in:
Here are some of the “Finding NiMo” remarks that went viral on Twitter and WhatsApp:
And other jokes: