New Delhi/Lucknow: Leaders of some of political parties have given a mixed response to the New York Times criticism of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP’s) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
In an editorial, the NYT said Modi cannot hope to lead India effectively if he inspires fear and antipathy among many of its people.
It further stated that Modi’s rise to power has troubled many Indians deeply, especially the country’s 138 million Muslims and its many other minorities, and added that they worry that if he becomes India’s nexy prime minister, he might exacerbate sectarian tensions that have subsided in the last decade.
Responding to the NYT article, senior BJP leader Vinay Katiyar said he did not believe in the report, and described it as very misleading.
“I don’t believe in the report. I believe in Modi. He will become the prime minister of India. These things are being planned and spread. These will not help the world,” said Katiyar.
Senior Uttar Pradesh Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi, seemed to agree with the gist of the article, saying: “Modi’s international image is very bad and it (NYT editorial) is not wrong, as everyone knows what happened in the 2002 riots.”
Union Minister of State for Agriculture and senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Tariq Anwar said: “Whatever the New York Times have written is right. Everyone knows what the RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh) is upto.”
Biju Janata Dal party leader and Member of Parliament Jay Panda said: “I would like to say to the New York Times, that they should mind their own business. They have no right to say who will be the leader, it is the matter of India, and India will decide.”
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.