Washington: Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi cannot hope to lead India effectively if he inspires fear and antipathy among many of its people.

A report in the New York Times said Modi, who is a leading candidate to become prime minister of India, would lead the country if his party wins enough seats in parliamentary elections next summer.

But 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 in the last decade.

In 2002, rioters in Gujarat savagely killed nearly 1,000 people, most of whom were Muslim minority.

Now, barely a decade later, Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time, still holds the office.

Supporters of Modi argue that an investigation commissioned by India’s Supreme Court cleared him of wrongdoing in the riots.

According to the report, 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.

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, the report said.

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.

But Modi’s strident Hindu nationalism has fueled public outrage.

In an interview when Modi was asked 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.

According to the report, Modi has shown no ability to work with opposition parties or tolerate dissent.

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.

(For all the latest News, Mumbai, Entertainment, Cricket, Business and Featured News updates, visit Free Press Journal. Also, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and do like our Facebook page for continuous updates on the go)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in