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    Posted April 4, 2014 by
    Kolkata, India

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    Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister of India has raised the hackles and rung alarm bells of many both domestically and sometimes internationally. When The Economist runs a column just a few days before the first phase of the Indian elections, passes judgement about Narendra Modi’s personality being unfit for the Prime Minister’s post because of the 2002 Gujarat riots and even goes on to suggest an unlikely Congress led government and in their own words - under an extremely reluctant Rahul Gandhi not an inspiring one but recommend it to Indians as the less disturbing one, there is an eerie and conspiratorial ring to this advise for a nation that has held together despite serious challenges to its unity. Besides the ethics of this column appearing a few days before voting commences one wonders if the publication has factored in the sentiments of the millions of unemployed 20 to 30 year olds with college degrees unable to find jobs for the last two or three years, official unemployment figures are running close to 8 %, or for those households unable to manage the ravages of inflation while the Congress government is caught in one mega scam after the other involving billions of Rupees.
    Much the same kind of sentiment and fears were expressed in 1998 prior to the BJP NDA governments ascent to power which incidentally was only a few years after the demolition of a Mosque in Ayodhya. The records of their stint in office are there to prove it otherwise. India is an extremely diverse country not only socially but also politically. To expect a Prime Minister sitting in Delhi to run roughshod over Chief Ministers coming from other political parties, to toe a communal or divisive agenda is absolute naiveté and far removed from the reality that exists on the ground in India’s federal democracy of 29 states most of them ruled by political parties with different sets of agenda to the one ruling the country from Delhi. Pushing routine policy matters itself is a herculean task for any Central Government so to push anything radical or exclusive is unthinkable.
    Riots in India has been a common occurrence in post Independence India after India was partitioned by the British on religious lines where some Muslims found it difficult to be ruled by Hindus. However, the partition did not end perfectly leaving behind a huge Muslim population in India though that was not the original plan. Today India is home to 200 million Muslims, the second largest Muslim population in the World, and it is the fastest growing community/group in the population basket. The fact that the community puts identity and religion above everything else does lead to social tensions but it is nothing compared to the violence and mayhem in our neighbourhood countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq all Islamic countries battling sectarian violence of the worst kind. Indians both Hindus and Muslims have co-existed peacefully for centuries, 1947 being a huge blemish bought about by a colonial power, that in many parts of India with significant mixed population those states or regions have not seen any communal riots in the last few decades and Gujarat under Modi has been riot free in the last twelve years. However, in a democracy when political parties vie for power their approach becomes naturally divisive and Narendra Modi and the BJP are not the only proponents of such a short sighted agenda but this list would also include the so called secular parties. Besides the rise of right wing Hindu forces if one may call the BJP that, was as a direct result of the sustained minority (read Muslim) appeasement programmes in the garb of minority upliftment without leading to any real improvement in the community which was flagged by a government appointed committee the Sachar committee essentially treating them as reliable vote banks during elections. This approach drew the ire of a large number of Indian cutting across religious lines including from members of the Muslim community and surely anyone covering India is fully aware of the ground situation.
    It is very important to all concerned to respect the wisdom and sagacity of the Indian voter who has since 1950 participated wholeheartedly and enthusiastically in the election process despite the extreme flaws in the process which keeps gradually getting ironed out by an independent Election Commission. Elections mirror the popular mandate of the people in a country, the 815 million voters will start exercising their franchise from April 7 up until May 12 2014 for their choice of government to take them out of a morass created by ineptitude and corruption, where the youth who form nearly 65 % of the population are increasingly becoming very restive in the hope of a better tomorrow. While one would like to believe that the respected business magazine’s attempt was well meaning as a well wisher of India but they have to also respect a popular choice for the next Prime Minister of India (if elected) – NARENDRA DAMODARDAS MODI.
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