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Monday, December 16, 2013

Could Narendra Modi Be India’s Next Prime Minister?

India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vasundhara Raje, center, greets party prime ministerial candidate and chief minister of Gujarat state Narendra Modi, left, and party president Rajnath Singh before her oath taking ceremony as the chief minister of Rajasthan state in Jaipur, India, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (Deepak Sharma/AP Photo)

India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vasundhara Raje, center, greets party prime ministerial candidate and chief minister of Gujarat state Narendra Modi, left, and party president Rajnath Singh before her oath taking ceremony as the chief minister of Rajasthan state in Jaipur, India, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (Deepak Sharma/AP)

A controversial candidate has emerged as a potential prime minister in the 2014 general elections in the world’s largest democracy.

Narendra Modi is the chief minister for the state of Gujarat and his opposition party BJP, which is a Hindu nationalist party, did well in four states during the recent local elections.

But while he has been praised for the economy in his home state, he’s also been criticized for not doing enough to stop anti-Muslim riots in 2002 that left more than 1,000 people dead.

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss the controversy surrounding Modi.


  • Sanjoy Majumder, reporter for the BBC in Dehli. He tweets @BBCSanjoyM.



And from American politics to Indian politics now. The world's largest democracy is holding general elections next year, and one of the candidates getting a lot of attention is a guy named Narendra Modi, who could be the country's next prime minister. Joining us to talk about him is BBC's Sanjoy Majumder. He's with us from Delhi. Sanjoy, welcome.


HOBSON: Well, first of all, just give us a little bit of an introduction to Mr. Modi. Who is he?

MAJUMDER: Well, Narendra Modi, at the moment, is the leader of the state of Gujarat. He's the highest elected official, the chief minister. And he belongs to India's principal opposition party, the BJP, which, in many ways, is a conservative force in Indian politics. It, in some ways, resembles - at least in economic policy - the Republican Party, if you like, of the United States.

And Narendra Modi is now the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP. He's one of India's most controversial politicians, because while he has an incredible reputation as being a very efficient administrator, a leader who is not known to be corrupt, he also has a legacy, which is that in 2002, under his watch as Gujarat chief minister, the state witnessed one of the worst religious riots in Indian history.

Something like 2,000 people - most of them Muslims, from the minority - were killed. And he's often been accused of not just doing very little, but actually actively fomenting those riots. And that's the reason why, even today, he is seen very much as a divisive politician, someone who, while he has the backing of many people, equally is loathed by many others.

HOBSON: Loathed by perhaps the 12 percent of Indians who are Muslim.

MAJUMDER: Not just that. I think there is certainly a segment of liberal Indians who are very nervous about the rise of Narendra Modi, people who do believe that India, by and large, is a secular country where the rights of minorities are enshrined. And therefore, they're very nervous of the fact that maybe the country could possibly be run by someone who may not share those values, or at least has never been known to express those values openly.

HOBSON: Now, you say he's from the state of Gujarat, which is in the northwest of India. It is home to Mahatma Gandhi, and it has been doing very well economically while he's been in charge, right?

MAJUMDER: Yes, that's right. Gujarat is one of India's best-performing states. It attracts more foreign investment than almost any other Indian state. Unlike many other parts of the country, it has fantastic infrastructure: roads, ports. And also he runs a very efficient administration. He's loved by the business community, because it's very easy to do business in Gujarat. That's something a lot of people find very frustrating in India, the number of bureaucratic bottlenecks.

There are allegations that businesses often have to bribe lower officials to get their way. That's something that doesn't often happen in Gujarat, and that's the reason why many people are hoping - at least from the business community - that Mr. Modi can do to India what he's done to Gujarat, that is make it a very, very prosperous state.

HOBSON: So that is, do you think, going to be the main issue in the 2014 elections, the economy and lifting of more Indians out of poverty across the country?

MAJUMDER: That's certainly going to be the centerpiece of Mr. Modi's campaign. It's been very clear already - from the kind of public meetings he's been having and the themes he's been hitting, quite apart from attacking the governing Congress Party - he and his campaign managers have been very quick to stress on his record in office, talking about Gujarat's economic prosperity.

And the economy is something that everyone is sensitive about across the world, but particularly so at the moment in India. We've had several years of very high inflation, cost of living's gone up substantially. The cost of food - the single biggest budgetary item, if you like, for most Indians - has shot up, in some cases, by over 100 percent in the last five years.

So it's become very expensive for the average Indian, and therefore, it's somebody like Narendra Modi with a message that he is about to put the economy back on the rails is something that's very, very appealing.

HOBSON: What would Mr. Modi mean for relations with the United States, which, as you know, have become even more important for this country, given the rise of China and the U.S. wanting to have a real friend and ally in that part of the world?

MAJUMDER: Well, interestingly enough, Mr. Modi is a bit of a problem for the United States, particularly the State Department. He, for instance, has never been able to get a visa to visit the United States, despite the fact that, you know, there are a lot of Indians there. There are a lot of people from his Gujarat state living in many parts of the States, particularly in areas such as New Jersey.

But the reason he doesn't get a visa is, of course, because of the question over those riots in 2002. Now a lot of other countries, particularly in Europe, have since revised their policy, and have actually extended invitations to him to visit their country. Diplomats have been visiting him. The only ones who have been conspicuous by their absence are the Americans. And I think, just a short while ago, a couple of weeks ago, Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, actually spoke about this and said that it was perhaps time for Washington to take a fresh look at Mr. Modi.

And I think that's a recognition that perhaps this is someone they're going to have to deal with eventually, and therefore they need to sort of rethink their policy.

HOBSON: Sanjoy, what does this mean for the Congress Party and the way that India is changing? Is the Congress Party out of fashion, do you think?

MAJUMDER: I think what the Congress Party is suffering from at the moment is voter fatigue. They've been in power for two back-to-back terms, and it's always very difficult for an incumbent government to win a third term. I mean, things have to really go in your favor. They've been struck, I think, in the last few years by several things going against them.

There have been a number of corruption scandals, most of which have been laid at their door. They're suffering from a leadership crisis, as well, because the incumbent prime minister, Manmohan Singh, is not going to run for another term. It looks very much like the party is going to pass on to Rahul Gandhi, who of course comes from the very influential political first family of India, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. In many ways, they're the Kennedys of India.

But he's seen very much as a reluctant leader. He doesn't really have that popular following. He isn't known to take a public stand, and they haven't declared him as a candidate, either. So you have, on the one hand, Narendra Modi, who is a declared candidate, who is looking very strong. On the other hand, you don't quite know who he's fighting against.

HOBSON: The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder, joining us from Delhi. Thank you so much.

MAJUMDER: Thank you.


And a quick note on another story: India, of course, was once a British colony. Britain is not the dynasty it once was, but later on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, a fascinating look at how Brits still listen to shipping forecasts. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • no_2_genocide

    Great!! Even a mass murderer gets acceptance from the “civilized” world, because he is good for business. People need to know more about the organized brutality this criminal perpetrated on the Muslims of Gujarat, before embracing him as the paragon of capitalism in India.

    • sadfas

      What about your beloved Rajiv Gandhi and family, what about every other riot happening across country.
      Modi uplifted all along with muslim, parsis, jains and other minority in Gujarat and killed the biggest murderer – Povtery, which causes not thousands, but millions to suffer a life worser than death.

    • Raj Mehta

      It was a fabricated story from Congress party. Riot was started not by muslim but by congress party. They have learned dirty politics from British Raj. Divide India and Rule India.

    • Raj

      You like it or not. Your Papa Modi will be next PM of India.

    • abhi345

      jihadi bastards called muslims will be killed in india if modi comes to power.

      • Gujarati Muslim

        I have great respect for Modiji but could you please choose your words carefully? Your wording could offend Muslims. I know that it is Congress who actually framed Modiji and not all Muslims are fool.

    • ReformIndiaNow

      no_2_genocide, you’re simply a pathological liar. You seem to hope that by repeating your lies over and over again, that you can make them the “truth”.

      Let’s not forget that the “saintly” Congress Party, which is leading the venom campaign against Modi, directly carried out the 1984 riots in which over 10,000 Sikhs were murdered across India. Those were the worst riots in post-partition history, and the Congress has gone out of its way to keep its thugs from being punished.

    • Gujarati Muslim

      You are a Congress paid liar or simpleton who took Congi bait. Remember that it is Congress leader Bilal Haji who set Godhra train on fire. Congress started all this riots all these years. Congress is making us fools.

      • db

        yes right said. even no media or international took any action on congress for this. the master mind was congress and they successfully rule india without any objection.

  • Shehnaaz Munshi

    I have been in and out of Gujarat since 1965 and was married to a Muslim who died after the 2002 riots. Things are better in Ahmedabad for Muslims than they have been for the last 50 years, according to my in-laws and to others. It’s interesting how the international media consistently ignores this fact.

  • ReformIndiaNow

    Strongly disagree with the allegation that Modi was involved in the riots. The fact is that those riots could have taken place in any state in India, and it was just by chance they happened in Gujarat. The fact is that if that train had not been torched by that Muslim mob, burning alive 58 men, women and children, then those riots wouldn’t have happened. The way that the train burning is being omitted from mention is really sinister.

  • Narendra Modi

    have launched a petition to request President Obama to reconsider US
    Administration’s stand on Mr. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the State
    of Gujarat, India.
    Please visit MODI360.COM to review and sign this petition.

    • Sanjeev

      I feel Modiji need not request Obama for such things as once he becomes PM , US will itself come forward to revoke such visa bans on the PM. Otherwise as a PM Modiji will have many other options to make US relent on such foolish policies . Do you know what happens to US if India stops consuming all foreign goods just for two months? US Dollar will be selling at 5 Rs (1US$ = 5 INR) . Let us Pray Modiji becomes next PM, Obama will come for Modi’s Oath Taking ceremony with US Visa for Modiji in his hand.





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  • vishnusharma

    India has treated its Muslim minorities much much much better than the way hindus are treated in two other states which emerged out of the same subcontinent in 1947 and 1971. The Hindu simply does not have a footprint anymore in these two regions which were earlier his domain.

    An able muslim can become anything he wants to in India and is well represented in every facet of India : arts, sports, music, literature, government office, various professions like engineering and medicine. He is free to follow his religion without any persecution. Riots only happen when the minorities in their over zealousness savagely attack the majority.

    These kind of opportunities are not the lot of Hindu minorities in both Pakistan and Bangladesh where they are forced to live in poverty and terror.

    The media should always use the term retaliation against the train burning in Godhra
    Instead of Gujurat riots.

  • sangram

    Modi will be the boss of world ..wait till 2014

  • sanjaypurohit

    Let us just look more than 2002 why Modi can’t and shouldn’t be PM.

    Run for Unity (unity for nation, all are equal)


    2002 riots, Muzzaffar riots, Patna blasts

    No Tickets to Muslims, Christians, Sikhs in his entire tenure

    Khud nahi dauda aur poore desh ko murkh banaya. Run for Unity ka leader hi nahi dauda.

    Law and Order Ka Badshaah


    Haren pandya murder

    21+ fake encounters

    28+ inquiry commissions for over decade but no reports tabled

    No Lokayukta

    Police always used in his own bandobast and not serving people

    Abhishek, Dipesh Vaghela Murder investigation covered up

    Kalpasar Project files burnt in staged fire in Sachivalay

    30% of his Cabinet are having Criminal Background/Law suits

    Team Player?


    Only he can announce and repeat wrongs, wrong history again and again

    Everyone has to speak his tone

    Only me – BJP team shattered in Gujarat and India

    Own IPS officers in Gujarat jailed

    Advani, Keshubhai and many leaders not seeing eye-to-eye

    Even Vajpayee against him

    Character ke to kya kehne


    Dumped his own wife Jashodaben Modi

    Anandiben Patel’s estranged husband Mafatbhai patel open said that Modi destroyed his family

    Snooping/Stalking of Women – Chalo Ishq ladaye

    Asaram and Narayan Sai ke baare mein chup! Ekdum Chup! – Aur baat kare hein “Kanya Keravni” and “Beti Bacho”.

    Pls tell how Asaram and Adani are funding BJP or Not

    Gujarat se itna pyar tha to 30 years Gujarat ke bahar kyon?

    Development mein Gujarat No 1 (despite no projects done)


    GIFT City failed

    Tata Nano failed

    Asia’s largest Fedra Airport ka ata pata nahi

    Dholera Water City – wo kya hota hein

    Mini Japan Township – is like Mini Pizza – digested away

    Asia’s largest GAS Find – 12,000 cr losses booked by GSPC. Petrol in farmers taps?

    Bhatia Nano City ?

    iCreate Incubation Center with N R Narayan Murthy?

    N Vittal Innovation/Knowledge City?

    HCC Fab City?

    Metro Rail

    6 New World Class Cities, 7 Twin Cities in Gujarat

    Kalpasar Project- Still on drawing board after 17 years

    Narmada Canal coverage – was 27% before Modi and he added only 3% with today it covering 30%

    200+ Foreign Universities will come to Gujarat?

    DMIC Corridor

    Statue of Unity – lol

    Rally/Yatras during Elections


    Rath Yatra – Ram Temple

    Vivekananda Yatra

    Sadbhavna Yatra

    Run for Unity

    Lies, Lies and Damn Lies


    20 Lakhs houses given in 12 years

    Gujarat has lowest unemployment

    Another 50 Lakh housing will be given in 5 years

    Gujarat girls are slim as they are figure conscious

    1880 Cr Medical Expense of Sonia Gandhi

    Doesn’t stay in Gujarat. lol – Vote for me for 1 day and I’ll serve you for 5 years. – Doesn’t stay in Gujarat anymore.

    Zeros have no value and term “World Class” used which indirectly means third class

    Words like “Global” used means “Gujarati Village” – How many Fortune 1000 firms operate in Gujarat that he keeps using word Global?

    Rs. 30,000+ crores promised to Various Districts/Talukas during Vivekanda Yatra not given

    His own EC Affidavit has fake info. How can his sal be Rs. 1 Lakh with Rs. 54,000 IT refund? He did not disclose 3D Show and NAMO TV expenses.

    Fake Video using Amitabh Bachchan endorsing him as PM.

    Climate Change ki book likh dali but dept don’t have office of website in 3 years

    Shoddy deals / Efficient Administrator ?


    Adani letterheads in CM Office used to fill tenders automatically

    MLAs/Babus now run most educational institutions in Gujarat – Where are new municipal schools/govt colleges?

    Highest number of RTI pending

    Vadodara Building collapses, Lunavada Bridge Collapses

    No major builders arrested despite everyone knowing that real estate has so much “BLACK MONEY” and they talk about bringing Black Money from outside?

    CAG Report not even discussed / allowed to be discussed in assembly

    Gujarat Assembly working days now all time less. So how will they discuss ppl issues?

    Spends crazy amount on Makeup, PR and being in limelight and when not in news, rakes up his Travel VISA issue as fill in

    Uses states MLAs, Babus, Police for personal agenda which has nothing to do with State specific tasks

    Police has time to find dog of MP Kirit Solanki but has no time to nab culprits of 23 HIV impacted kids in Junagadh Hospital

    Not a single word on “Jan Lokpal bill”

    Doesn’t disclose actual debt figures of state and impact on future debt due to his freebies. While Lok Rakshak(Police) and Vidhya Sahayak(Teachers) getting paid less than donkeys, businessmen getting to loot Gujarat

    Job situation in Gujarat is pathetic and youth misled.

    Neither his ministers have declared family/trust/HUF wealth and company holdings, nor he has declared how he has indirectly benefited his own extended families(brothers families) with govt and pvt sector holdings. One of the reason he has diluted “LOKAYUKTA LAW” is to make it “POTA -YUKTA” – self controlled – so his own shoddy deals won’t come to light.

    Only Ratan Tata types gets approval in Gujarat in 2 days

    ESSAR has not paid taxes for years

    Asaram has not paid taxes for years and even illegally occupied land

    APCO Worldwide has been paid crores and crores to market and Promote brand Modi. Public Servant – using Public Money for personal propaganda.



    His speeches have cooked up data – has earned him tag “FEKU”

    He continues to vomit VENOM and is bad mouthed.

    Vapi the most polluted city of India



    Went to Himalayas to become a Sanyasi – and today he is the Richest Sanyasi of the world moving in chartered planes and putting on Luxurious clothing. So how different he is from other thugs?

    • db

      richest sanyasi, can you provide the wealth he own?

  • powerandprivilege

    Granted, violence and the killing of innocent civilians is wrong, but the mainstream [paid media] harps on the anti-Muslim riots, while totally glossing over the cause behind them. Allow me to enlighten your readers: Muslims burnt alive a train load of Hindu pilgrms. How would American react if a train load of Christians pilgrims were killed by Muslim minority? Or if Jews attending prayers at a synagogue were burnt alive by minority Muslim community? Granted violence and the killing of onncent civilians is wrong, but

  • George Mathew

    We don’t think US as a friend. They are opportunist and with this diplomats arrest we see US as we see Pakistan & China.

    • NaMo

      I don’t think most indians share your views about the great USA. Most of the indians like and have high respect for the USA and its people.

  • NaMo

    Some facts:In 2001, Narendra Modi had just been elected as the chief minister (CM) of gujarat, a couple of months before time when the riots had started; as a spontaneous reaction to the muslim mobs burning live hindu woman and children (50-60″) on travelling on train.
    To label Modi as the main culprit in the anti-muslim riot is intellectually dishonest. Was JFK responsible for ’62 race riots in Mississippi? As JFK was the elected president of USA during the riot.

    After Modi has been CM of gujrat there has been NO anti-muslim riots, nada, zilch. Where as there has been more than 100 riots in the indian stated of UP and Bihar, rule directly or jointly by the congerss party. Using your logic, Manmohan singh, the prime minister of India is responsible for 100 times more anti-muslim riots.

    Were the riots justified? Absolutely not! Can they have been prevented? Very unlikely, as anybody who has lived in india can attest. People around the world respond irrationally during a mass murders such as burning train full on hindu women and children by some minority (Most Indian muslims are proud and secular citizens of India) muslim religious fanatics. We have an example of a nation, USA that went berserk and killed hundreds of thousands of muslims when a few muslim fanatics killed 1000s of innocent americans in name of islam, aka 9/11 the WTC attack.

    • db

      yes. you said vary true logical. i agree. thanks.

  • Steven Boyd

    ……I agree it is a very silly question. The Mohenjaro and Harappa people were the original inhabitants, the Hindu race as an Aryan race arrived from Central Asia they are outsiders who settled in this land. Muslims also came from outside both have an equal claim to India. You may as we’ll ask the question do Hindus have a right to the land.

    Now for this arch hypocrite and Modi, he is just a chai wallah educated by the semi literate RSS, he possesses the ignorant worldview of this organisation, Who make up their own fantasy of Indian History. They are the laughing stock of Historians in JNU Delhi, Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford etc…

    It is also academically we’ll researched that most riots have been organised by The RSS to consolidate the Hindu vote, there are well researched academic books that prove this empirically. A man born in Pakistan drove a chariot accompanied by hundreds, shouting blood curdling slogans against Muslims, throughout UP in order to build a temple. He left riots in his wake and Muslims were killed wherever he went. That is why the BJP was able to form a government, by consolidating the Hindu vote.

    Modi and his hoodlums created an extreme tense atmosphere in Gujarat over the temple issue. When Hindus died in a train fire, he brought the bodies to Ahmedabad and the RSS then built up a frenzy which led to the horrific crimes committed against muslims. Again this I’d well documented

    According to police commissioner Julio Roberio IPS, Modi’s ministers were stationed in the two police control rooms, to ensure the police just stood by and watched defenseless muslims being slaughtered. police also took part in the killings. The pogams against went on for over a week, the two IPS police officers who kept their districts calm and were punished by Modi afterwards.

    As I write this The RSS Under Amit Shah is creating communal tension in Uttar Pardesh. A RSS MLA uploaded a fake video from Pakistan claiming it was Muslims killing jats. A pogam of the Muslims occurred in Muzaffarnagar.

    Folks! We live in modern times, everything goes recorded for history, thousand of pages of evidence, fact finding missions etc… Modi cannot fool anyone. He is a depraved character with the blood of many children, women and the defenceless on his Hands, all in order to garner the vote. America has denied him a visa because the CIA which bugs any phone it’s wants, has given a full report to the US government, who are well aware  of the nature of this man.

  • Srg

    why is this stupid international constantly targeting modi.The muslims are treated extremely well in india and the foreigners are trying to divide india like the british.

    modi is excellent administrator and to these **** foriegn media was ther any communal tension in gujarat for past 12 years.india has the best democratic setup people celebrate ellections here

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