India: Fear of modi

May 17, 2014 - 2:21:36 am

The Arabic media has given wide coverage to the Indian elections, the results of which were announced yesterday.

 

It has generally been critical of the landslide win for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi.

The victory has generated fear among minorities in India, particularly Muslims, and there is a possibility Hindu rightists may try to curb free expression, the Arabic media has said.

Qatar-based Aljazeera.net said in a report last night that Modi’s victory had created fear among minorities, especially Muslims.

The portal said the 63-year-old son of a tea stall owner had managed to project himself as a strong leader and one who could move the economy forward, notwithstanding the fact that he is from a Hindu nationalist party which is a controversial outfit.

Within the outfit (the BJP) itself, Modi represents the most extreme faction, and sometimes many of his own party colleagues distrust him.

“Modi, who regularly practices yoga, is a vegetarian and embraced the Hindu nationalist ideology when he was young,” wrote Aljazeera.net.

He joined the RSS, a voluntary Hindu nationalist organisation which believes in a semi-military approach. “The organisation is a staunch champion of Hindu culture and civilisation and its leaders adopt a confrontationist attitude towards Muslims, who are in a minority in India.”

In 1992, they destroyed a mosque in Ayodhya, said Aljazeera.net, wrongly adding that they had built a Hindu temple on the site.

During his election campaign, Modi was critical of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and promised that he would fight corruption if voted to power.

An able orator, Modi doesn’t speak English because he thinks it is the language of the elite in New Delhi.

Talking of his personal life, Aljazeera.net said that he didn’t accept arranged marriage organised by his family and lives alone in his house in Gujarat (the western Indian state of which he is the chief minister).

He has birds at home, for he spent a number of years in the Himalayas exploring nature and doing meditation before entering politics.

Talking of Modi’s controversial past, the portal recalls the communal riots that took place in Gujarat in 2002. “A thousand people were killed in these riots and most of them were Muslims. Modi’s administration didn’t do anything to stop the violence and he also didn’t apologise.”

Aljazeera.net also talked of what Modi said in July last year about Muslims who died in the riots, comparing them to rats. “The only credit he has to his name is that he has led Gujarat to some economic success.”

Another Arabic news portal, akhbarak.net/news, said that the election results in India reflected people’s anger with the Congress and its ineffective leadership and corruption. “Modi wasn’t the best choice of the electorate,” said the news portal.

Egypt-based ‘shorouknews’ talked of how the Indian financial markets had rallied after news of the BJP’s win trickled in, and said investors believed that he would be able to lead India out of its economic woes, improve infrastructure and fight inflation.

Some believe that such expectations (based on Modi’s success in attracting industrial investment to Gujarat) are unrealistic.

It is for the first time that the BJP has managed to get support from the poor masses, who have traditionally been backers of the Congress, said the Egyptian Arabic-language portal. 

Religious minorities in India were warning against his victory, but that didn’t affect his campaign, said the news portal.

Almayadeen.net, yet another Arabic news portal, said there was fear in some intellectual circles in India that Modi may encourage cultural fanaticism.

The portal talked about how an Indian who wanted to write a book on the cow and the fact that Hindus ate its meat centuries ago received death threats from Hindu hardliners. Modi supports the ideology whose proponents threatened this Indian, Dwijendra Narayan.

Intellectuals in India have begun practicing self-censorship and there are fears that Modi as PM may put curbs on free expression.

Political analyst and managing editor of Doha-based Al Sharq newspaper, Dr Abdul Muttalib Siddiq, told this newspaper that India has close economic ties with the Middle Eastern countries since the days of British rule.

“Modi knows this fact and he would not do anything to jeopardise this relationship,” said Dr Siddiq.

Contributions by MOBIN PANDIT, SACHIN KUMAR and MOHAMED OSMAN

 

 

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