The Economist, one of the world’s most influential weekly magazines—and a champion of the free market, to boot—has weighed in on Narendra Modi and the Gujarat elections in the latest issue:
AS A cheerleader for the emerging India, a giant democracy with—at last—an economy to match, Narendra Modi is a disgrace. His six-year leadership of Gujarat, a booming western state, is widely cited as a paragon of economic management. But double-digit growth is not all that Modi—who is seeking re-election in a poll due to begin on December 11—is alleged to have orchestrated.
There is also the small matter of 2,000 murdered Muslims, victims of a 2002 pogrom carried out by his Hindu-nationalist followers with the collusion of Gujarat’s bureaucracy and police…. A small matter, however, is just how the pogrom is viewed in Gujarat, the birth-place of Mahatma Gandhi, and a bastion of prohibition, vegetarianism and gnat-respecting Jains. Its last election, later in 2002, gave Modi a thumping majority, biggest in those districts where the bloodshed was worst….
This time Modi’s campaign has been more sober. He has unleashed the odd rant against “terrorists”, and a few barbs at Musharraf. But the BJP’s leader has been much keener to trumpet Gujarat’s recent economic performance—including growth of 11.5% last year. The change of tack may be because he is chary of the contempt the outside world holds for him. In 2005 America revoked his visa. EU countries have also denied him diplomatic status. This has been damaging to his ambitions to lead the BJP, and India. Modi is already its most globe-trotting state boss. This year he has visited China, South Korea, Japan and Switzerland.
But elections in India are not won by leading trade delegations—even in Gujarat, which has 24% of India’s coastline and a proud commercial tradition. Moreover the slogan Modi is most associated with, “Vibrant Gujarat”—the name of a biennial trade fair he has staged—recalls the ill-fated “India Shining” campaign run by India’s last BJP-led government for the general election in 2004. It was turfed out by the masses for whom India did not shine. Many in the Congress party, which leads the coalition that won that election, predict that Modi will suffer the same fate….
Text courtesy: The Economist
Read the full text here: Don’t mention the massacre