India on verge of historic change

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“Haroon Siddiqui of the Toronto Star wrote recently, “Modi himself is widely reviled” in India. Siddiqui then associated Modi and his BJP with a man who heads an anti-Muslim fascist group known as the VHP. Siddiqui wrote: “Praveen Togadia, a senior BJP leader, urged his supporters to ensure that Muslims do not buy property in Hindu localities.” In fact, Togadia (with whom I have had my own skirmish) has never been a “senior leader” of the BJP.

Modi votingMay 14, 2014

Tarek Fatah
The Toronto Sun

On Friday, over a billion Indians will witness a historic change of guard in New Delhi.

If exit polls are an indication, the iconic Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has ruled India for much of its post-independence period, will make an ignominious exit.

The man expected to become India’s next prime minister is the controversial leader of the opposition Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), Narendra Modi.

The six-week long, multi-phase Indian elections involving 800 million voters ended on Monday with a record-breaking 66.4% turnout, but the computerized voting count will not begin until Friday.

One exit poll by ABP-Nielsen predicts the opposition BJP-led alliance will win 281 seats with the governing Congress Party reduced to just 97 seats in the 545-member Indian Lok Sabha. (A party or coalition needs 272 seats to form a government in New Delhi.)

Depending on which side of the political fence one stands in India, Modi is either the messiah, who will accelerate India’s development and place the country at the head table among the developed nations of the world, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

His critics paint a gloomy future for India. They claim Modi’s government will be run by a group of right-wing Hindu nationalists, who will further isolate India’s religious minorities, notably the country’s marginalized 175 million Muslims.

Some of the criticism is based on a genuine fear stemming from Modi’s role when he was chief minister of Gujarat state during the 2002 communal riots, when hundreds of Muslims died in reprisal attacks after a train full of Hindu pilgrims was burnt to ashes.

However, amid one of the most scrutinized communal riots of India’s often-troubled Hindu-Muslim history, India’s Supreme Court exonerated Modi from any direct responsibility for the tragedy that befell the state’s Muslims.

The attacks on Modi are not restricted to within India. In fact, here in Canada he has been subject to vicious criticism bordering on contempt.

Haroon Siddiqui of the Toronto Star wrote recently, “Modi himself is widely reviled” in India. Siddiqui then associated Modi and his BJP with a man who heads an anti-Muslim fascist group known as the VHP.

Siddiqui wrote:

“Praveen Togadia, a senior BJP leader, urged his supporters to ensure that Muslims do not buy property in Hindu localities.”

In fact, Togadia (with whom I have had my own skirmish) has never been a “senior leader” of the BJP.

Last November, I travelled extensively by road in India through the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab and talked to many Muslim street vendors, farmers and cabbies.

I was surprised that many Muslims felt used by the Congress and were willing to give the BJP a chance.

The words of one Muslim waiter in Agra still resonate with me: “Modi will be good for India,” he said.

Indeed, India’s most prominent Muslim journalist, the author M.J. Akbar, a former Congress MP, joined the Modi team as the BJP’s official spokesman.

Akbar said he hoped India’s Muslims would join hands with BJP and come out of the “politics of fear” in favour of the “politics of development.”

Between Siddiqui’s laments and Akbar’s urgings, India’s Muslims would be well advised to listen to the latter.

4 comments for “India on verge of historic change

  1. Sarash Bhatoolaul
    May 15, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    Mr Haroon Siddiqui of Toronto Star has a wishful thinking of Modi’s election defeat and is attempting to have some influence in the minds of the Indian electorates. He has a subjective bias against the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate whereas Mr Tarek Fatah provides a more balanced view before settling in favour of Narendra Modi. We will later today find out whether Mr Modi is ‘widely reviled’ in India and if it will turn out that his party has achieved an electoral success, then Mr Siddiqui will need to change his partial opinion and write more objectively.
    Another thing I would like to object is about the size of Muslim population in India. I had read from ‘reliable’ sources about two decades ago that the size of Muslim population was around 200 million or slightly less but not the lower figure of 175 million mentioned in the article above especially when it is alleged that Muslim women on average have higher fertility rate than all other ethnic groups. This comment in fact corresponds with the Prophet’s dislike of ” removing to ejaculate in other than the right place” ( Al Nasa’i, Volume 6, p.68, V.5091). Whether the entire Muslim population is marginalised in spite of those getting access to universities, middle-class professions and making a successful career in the Bollywood industry as well as becoming successful self-employed individuals is not clear. There maybe some truth in saying that an equal number (if not a much greater figure) of non-Muslims are also marginalised in India primarily due to mass poverty and low or lack of education and skills. So the social deprivation of Muslims all over India cannot be attributed solely to one specific minority as if to say that the bulk of the predominantly Hindu population is having a rosy lifestyle. As Muslims in India are part and parcel of the Indian nation going back to some 1000 years, I would have thought that they would be well integrated in the mainstream society and think collectively that their socio-economic problems are the country’s setback and therefore decide what they themselves can do for the benefit of their own country.

    As from today we will have a new government with a new approach to managing the economy. A new government under the leadership of a proven charismatic leader is expected to work in the interests of the whole nation but change cannot be expected overnight.This is common sense. Citizens are expected to unite and work in peace and order for a brighter new India rather than being sceptical and grumpy against one another. A friendly and harmonious environment with a positive attitude in doing things are infinitely better to oneself and to one another instead of the contrary. I hope all of us will play a positive role and move together forward to give a helping hand to a novel prime minister who in turn will reciprocate for our collective good. Jay Hind.

  2. John Coelho
    May 15, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    A parallel can be made between the Congress Party in India and PRI the party that has dominated much of Mexico’s political history. They both have a good message–, (social democracy and secularism– and so they have been incredibly popular and long-lived in power. And, because of their persistance in power, they have gotten more and more corrupt and lethargic; and so parties to their right then have taken over: PAN in Mexico and, now, BJP in India.

    In India there needs to be a political force that guarantees an even economic playing field for Muslims but doesn’t tolerate their intolerance.Rather than being outraged by Islamists intimidating Taslima Nasreen and denying her free expression rights, Congress turns a blind eye and continues to pander uncritically to the Muslim vote.

  3. May 15, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    Its a very balanced analysis by Mr. Tarek Fatah.
    I would like to add as under:
    Gujarat has 5% of India’s population but its share in export is 22% and Industrial Production is 16%. Every city of Gujarat sees everyday influx of migrant labors of all variety from so called secular and progressive states of UP, Bihar and West Bengal, says a lot about employment situations in these badly governed states, ruled by rank caste satraps with hollow left leaning bamboozling.

    2002 Gujarat Riots were not the only riots in India. But due to convergence of many motives, objectives-political, ideological, commercial, professional, personal and group; an unholy industrious enterprise has been built around the sordid event, which was not unique.

    But many have emotionally and professionally gone ahead with congress funded, left-wing devised and articulated, longest running propaganda onslaught to politically exploit the sad riots of 2002, in which many congressmen and their affiliates have been convicted. It has become a pyramid of wide spread cottage enterprises, getting willing support, resources, including funding from Middle East Oil Rich despots.

    In Godhra case verdict, eleven people have been sentenced to death for their role in setting a compartment of the Sabarmati Express on fire in February, 2002. Another 20 people have been sentenced to life in prison.

    Those who planned and executed the Godhra fire include Razzak Kurkur, in whose guesthouse the conspiracy was allegedly birthed; Haji Bilal, who obstructed firefighters from reaching the burning coach, and Irfan Kalandar, who carried petrol into compartment S-6.The accused names prime accused Haji Bilal, the municipal corporator and Congress supporter. Bilal along with President of Godhra municipality Mohd Hussain Kalota were arrested in March. Others arrested include corporator Abdul Razak and Shiraj Abdul Jamesha.

    The decade old, huge vilification campaign against Modi and state of Gujarat has been launched by professional litigants, opportunists, left wing agitators; basically by the huge cabal nurtured and promoted for more than 60 years by the single family owned congress party, which has been largely co-opted by vast breed of Indian communists put in to positions of power, pelf and influence.
    These are the most traumatized rich and influential Indians, along with caste based regional megalomaniacs who fear dilution of their age old power to dictate the polity of India.

    They have been keeping the fire of Gujarat riot burning for over ten years. But they or likes of them, never invested same kind of energies and resources to investigate other riots in India, before and after 2002!

    How can they continue for over decade without matching support and funds! But from where they get it?

    Teesta Setalwad is been one of the main and most noisy flag bearers of this humongous vilification campaign. But she has accepted in court, that she was funded by Congress party and Communist party of India (Marxist).

    Teesta has been given awards in Middle East. Don’t we know who generally gets funds and rewards from Middle East Oil Rich Sheikhs?

    The fact is in spite of huge, more than decade long, multi-pronged efforts by Congress led Central Govt, its various investigating agencies and well-funded-influential-resource rich foot soldiers, Modi has not been proved to the responsible of these crimes.

    Teeming bands of professional Modi haters have been changing goal posts by reviving dead cases again and again, on flimsy pretexts, due to helping hands available at Delhi.

    In context of Gujarat Riots, what happened in Kashmir is so humongous in sheer number and magnitude, but that was never given even one tenth of scrutiny in India.

  4. Shanti
    April 20, 2015 at 5:02 PM

    Why doesn’t anyone mention who triggered the riots? Did the Hindu pilgrims (including children) deserve to be burnt alive in that train in Godhra? Muslims in India (excluding the broad-minded ones) must learn to respect other faiths and must expect to be treated the same way they treat others. So, they feel we are beneath contempt because we are ‘budh parast’ – I presume they mean ‘idol worshippers’ -? I’d rather worship a stone and be a decent human being than worship a ‘true God’ and kill others in the name of that god. God must be shaking his head asking himself, ”where did I go wrong?”

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