Sunday, October 27, 2013

NYT says Modi can't lead country "effectively", apprehends fear among dissidents, minorities, marginalized

By Our Representative
In an editorial titled “Narendra Modi’s Rise in India”, the New York Times (October 26, 2013), which may create major ripples around Modi’s supporters, has said that the Gujarat CM and India’s Prime Ministerial aspirant cannot hope to lead a country effectively which has multiple religions, more than a dozen major languages and numerous ethnic groups and tribes. The editorial apprehends, Modi “inspires fear and antipathy among many of its people.” The editorial has been published in the US edition of the NYT's Saturday Review.
“In 2002, rioters in the western Indian state of Gujarat savagely killed nearly 1,000 people, most of whom were part of the Muslim minority. Now, barely a decade later, Narendra Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time and still holds the office, is a leading candidate to become prime minister of India”, the editorial, written by the daily’s powerful editorial board, says.
“Modi, a star of India’s main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, would become prime minister if the party won enough seats in parliamentary elections next summer with support from its political allies. His rise to power is deeply troubling to many Indians, especially the country’s 138 million Muslims and its many other minorities. They worry he would exacerbate sectarian tensions that have subsided somewhat in the last decade”, it points out.
However, the editorial does not fail to notice “mismanagement” on the part of the Congress, which has been ruling India for the last one decade. It says, “Supporters of Modi argue that an investigation commissioned by India’s Supreme Court cleared him of wrongdoing in the riots. And they insist that Modi, who is widely admired by middle-class Indians for making Gujarat one of India’s fastest-growing states, can revive the economy, which has been weakened by a decade of mismanagement by the coalition government headed by the Indian National Congress Party.”
It insists, “There is no question that the Congress Party has failed to capitalize on the economic growth of recent years to invest in infrastructure, education and public institutions like the judiciary. And instead of trying to revive itself with new ideas and leaders, it is likely to be led in the coming election by Rahul Gandhi, the inexperienced scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family.”
Even then, the editorial contends, “But Modi’s strident Hindu nationalism has fueled public outrage. When Reuters asked him earlier this year if he regretted the killings in 2002, he said, if ‘someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is.’ That incendiary response created a political uproar and demands for an apology.”
It further says, “Modi has shown no ability to work with opposition parties or tolerate dissent. And he has already alienated political partners; this summer, an important regional party broke off its 17-year alliance with the BJP because it found Modi unacceptable.”
Coming to the so-called Gujarat model, the editorial says, “His economic record in Gujarat is not entirely admirable, either. Muslims in Gujarat, for instance, are much more likely to be poor than Muslims in India as a whole, even though the state has a lower poverty rate than the country.”
“India is a country with multiple religions, more than a dozen major languages and numerous ethnic groups and tribes. Modi cannot hope to lead it effectively if he inspires fear and antipathy among many of its people”, it concludes.

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