October 21, 2021

Voters in India expected to give Narendra Modi a mandate

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narendra-modi-varanasi-reuters-650By Ellen Barry and Neha Thirani Bagri, The New York Times

New Delhi: Exit polls released Monday suggested that voters in India’s parliamentary election will deliver a mandate for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist who has promised to create manufacturing jobs and overhaul the country’s infrastructure. (Narendra Modi on Course for Election Victory, Exit Polls Show)

The country’s stock market surged to a record high on the last day of voting on the news that the BJP coalition could receive more than 272 of the lower house’s 545 seats, enough to allow Modi to form a government without forging a coalition with fractious regional power brokers.

However, India’s exit polls are not always reliable, having incorrectly predicted a BJP victory in 2004, when the Indian National Congress won by a comfortable margin, and underestimated the Congress’ winning margin in 2009. The official vote count will take place Friday.

Turnout exceeded 66 percent, according to the election commission, even before Monday’s voters were included in the polls, setting a new benchmark in India. The previous record, of around 64 percent, was set in 1984, during a wave of emotion that followed the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. (India Sets New Record for Voter Turnout at Over 66%)

Modi, 63, tapped into growing frustration with the Congress party, and the Gandhi-Nehru political dynasty that has controlled the party since India’s independence in 1947. In an interview published Monday, he promised that he would come to power without “hangers-on or darbaris,” a Hindi word that translates as “courtiers.”

“Look at what is happening in the capital,” he said. “Delhi is being controlled by a cabal that has vested interests in the status quo.”

As the campaign entered its final weeks, Modi appeared confident of winning, and at rallies he began to focus his remarks on the need for a large margin of victory to bring change to India.

“If a vehicle is stuck in the mud, and the mud is strong, no matter how hard you push, you cannot pull it out,” he said at a rally in the city of Roorkee last weekend. “If the whole country is in a deep ditch, I need strength, dear brothers and sisters, I need 300 seats to get it out.”

Jai Pal Singh, a reporter for the Voice of the Nation, said voters’ expectations of Modi were so high that they could prove dangerous if they are not met.

“If the results are not up to the mark, if there will not be a drastic change in life – what shall I say – the emotions will break,” Singh said.

After Monday’s exit polls suggested that the Congress’ share of parliamentary seats might fall below 100, party officials said that the results were unreliable. In a television appearance, the party spokesman Randeep Surjewala said that Modi’s campaign had stirred up tensions between Hindus and Muslims.

“He may have managed to get some support in some pockets, but in the long term it is India which lost because of this rabid polarization,” Surjewala said.

Markets, however, responded positively. Since December, when local elections pointed to a national BJP victory, stock market indexes have risen about 12 percent. That trend continued Monday, when the Sensex index surged 556 points to 23,551, and the 50-share Nifty benchmark climbed to a record 7,020.05 points. The Indian rupee also rose to its strongest level since July. (Sensex Hits Another High as Exit Polls Point to Modi Win)

Amisha Vora, joint managing director at Prabhudas Lilladher Group, a Mumbai-based brokerage, said markets were reacting to the prospect that Modi “will have a lot of discretion to make policy changes.”

“I wouldn’t say that it is the BJP regime that the markets are so bullish about,” Vora said. “At this point of time it seems that they are rather bullish about Mr. Modi.”

PHOTO: Reuters

Narendra Modi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, waves to his supporters during a roadshow in Varanasi on April 24.

For more on this story go to: http://www.ndtv.com/elections/article/election-2014/voters-in-india-expected-to-give-narendra-modi-a-mandate-52322

Related story:

Indian prime ministerial candidate’s anti-Muslim posturing could have Caribbean repercussions

By Ray Chickrie From Caribbean News Now

NEW YORK, USA — The anti-Muslim posturing of India’s prime ministerial candidate, Narindra Modi, who according to poll forecasters will win the ongoing general election, and who is again making headlines in India for inciting the killing of 30 Muslims last week, could have repercussions in the Caribbean, where large segments of the Hindu and Muslim populations are of Indian decent.

Modi’s nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is tightly aligned with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a radical anti-Muslim/anti-Christian group that human rights groups allege supervised the anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002 in Gujarat, when about 2,000 Muslims were massacred.

Modi was banned from the United Stated for his alleged involvement in the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat when he was governor of that state.

Just last week, Modi was accused of inciting community violence that took the lives of nearly 30 Muslims, who were killed and their houses burned in the worst outbreak of ethnic violence in the remote northeastern region of Assam. Among the 30 Muslims killed were women and children.

Minister for minority affairs K Rahman Khan said on Sunday that statements made by Modi against illegal Bangladeshi immigrants led to the “massacre” of 30 Muslims and urged the central government to take action. On Sunday, India deployed the army in the region to protect Muslims.

Modi last week told Bangladeshi refugees to have their “bags packed” in the event he came to power.

“Modi should have been more responsible in his utterances,” said Sabyasachi Basu Roy Chowdhury, a political science professor at Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.

Indian and international human rights such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in 2002 also accused Modi of hate speeches that incited the mayhem and his inaction in stopping the Gujarat massacre by turning a blind eye.

Modi denied the accusations and a Supreme Court inquiry did not find evidence to prosecute him. Human Rights Watch International has further accused Gujarat state of “subverting justice, protecting perpetrators, and intimidating those promoting accountability ten years after the anti-Muslim riots”

Muslims, who make up 15% of India’s 1.2 billion people, are wary of Modi who has promised to build the Ram Temple on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid and abrogate the autonomous status of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. Modi also promised his supporters a uniform Indian civil code. As it is now, India’s communities have their own set of laws governing family issues. These are some of the reason why Muslims are expected to vote solidly for the Congress Party of India.

Amrit Dillion, an Indian journalist, who writes for many global dailies, does not see Muslim Indians voting for Modi. While they want education and a job, they haven’t forgotten the past.

Dillion said, “But times are changing. Young Muslims today are just like other Indian youths: they want education, jobs, nice homes and a peaceful life in their country. They have largely left behind their parents’ obsession with religious identity. But when it comes to Mr Modi, they are unwilling to forgive.”

Ahsan Khan, president of the Indian Muslim American Council said, “The judgment by the lower court is not surprising given the fact that getting justice from any court in Gujarat is difficult under an administration that is itself the prime accused.”

Caribbean leaders, and especially those from countries with large Hindu and Muslim populations such as Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, have traditionally never make statements about India’s communal violence, nor have they publicly expressed their feelings about Narindra Modi.

Recently, the Guyana Times, a daily newspaper close to the ruling government, sees Modi as a positive change for India and a benefit to Guyana and other small states.

Guyana Times wrote, “Smaller countries such as Guyana can expect, there would be greater support in multilateral global institutions such as the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank, for a more equitable sharing of globalisation. The US can expect a more independent Indian position in the affairs of new Asia, especially as it relates to China.”

For Guyana, the paper wrote, “It means, therefore, that India will be competing much more forcefully for the raw materials such as metal ores and petroleum in the third world. This can only redound to our benefit since this means higher prices for our products such as bauxite.”

But if India returns to a cycle of Hindu/Muslim violence, Caribbean leaders will find it hard to deal with Modi because civil society will raise the issue at national level and will not sit still. Modi could also be shunned by the international community if he continues his anti-Muslim agenda.

One Muslim group in Guyana said, “We need to condemn all acts of extremism and violence against innocent people; Muslims or non Muslims.”

On Wednesday, the Central Islamic Organization of Guyana (CIOG) condemned last week’s killings in Assam.

“The well being of India and its people is close to the heart of Guyana, especially that about 50% of our people are of Indian descent and they include Muslims and Hindus. Hence, communal violence in India and those behind it should be condemned since it has ramifications for the well being and stability of our multi-cultural, multi-religious democracy here in Guyana,” the CIOG said in a statement.

For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/headline-Indian-prime-ministerial-candidate’s-anti-Muslim-posturing-could-have-Caribbean-repercussions-21020.html



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