News / Asia

    Controversial Indian PM Candidate Pledges Change

    India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is presented with a traditional hat during an election campaign rally at Gogamukh, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Monday, March 31, 2014.
    India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is presented with a traditional hat during an election campaign rally at Gogamukh, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Monday, March 31, 2014.
    Anjana Pasricha
    India’s controversial prime minister candidate Narendra Modi is believed to be the front-runner in elections that begin next week. His promise of change has gained him an apparent edge in the closely-watched political contest.
     
    At a busy Metro station outside New Delhi in India’s corporate hub, Gurgaon, young professionals dash to reach their offices.  But they pause for a moment to say they will vote for Narendra Modi of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.  
       
    “We see hope from him," one voter said.  "We see that maybe after Modi comes our system is going to improve in many ways in terms of safety, corruption, better economic development, we see our country rising.”

     “I think the kind of image he has, definitely he had certain issues in the past, but the kind of things he has done in Gujarat, he makes a cut above all,” another voter opined.

     “For sure, BJP.  Modi seems to be a strong leader,” a third voter agreed.

    Many here are enthused by 63-year-old Modi’s promise to reinvigorate India’s declining economy by replicating nationwide the development model he has spearheaded as chief minister of the western state of Gujarat.

    Modi points to his track record in his state: economic growth and literacy rates that are higher than the national average and a flood of business investment due to the creation of sound infrastructure and a reduction in bureaucracy under his watch.  

    As he travels across India with his energetic campaign, Modi promises to fast-track development to meet the aspirations of a country where two-thirds of the 1.2 billion population are under the age of 35.  

    Modi says changing the country’s destiny, giving job opportunities to the youth, improving the lives of farmers, giving homes, clean water and education to the poorest is a dream he can fulfill.  

    His supporters are not troubled by questions over Modi’s secular credentials following Hindu-Muslim riots that killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims in his state in 2002.  The Indian Supreme Court has cleared him of involvement.

    But Modi’s role during the Gujarat riots continues to raise questions among political opponents and India's Muslim minority.

    Political analysts say Modi's advantage is due to the widespread frustration with the Congress Party, which is seen as squandering economic opportunity due to corruption and indecisive leadership.

    At a Muslim-dominated market in the Indian capital, there is huge anger with the ruling Congress Party for rising inflation.  But this anger does not translate into support for BJP's Modi, because there is deep suspicion of a man who they hold responsible for the sectarian violence.
     
    Shop assistant Rashid Ali says Narendra Modi should not head India's government, in Chandni Chowk market, New Delhi, March 31, 2014 . (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)Shop assistant Rashid Ali says Narendra Modi should not head India's government, in Chandni Chowk market, New Delhi, March 31, 2014 . (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
    x
    Shop assistant Rashid Ali says Narendra Modi should not head India's government, in Chandni Chowk market, New Delhi, March 31, 2014 . (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
    Shop assistant Rashid Ali says Narendra Modi should not head India's government, in Chandni Chowk market, New Delhi, March 31, 2014 . (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
    Rashid Ali, 31, who works in a roadside stall selling footwear, says the reins of the government should not be given to Modi.  He says leaders are always involved in the type of riots that racked Gujarat, adding that Muslims want peace, they do not want to fight with anyone.

    In a neighboring shop, Mohammad Sami echoes Ali's feelings.  He says he is fed up with India's ruling coalition, but will not opt for the main opposition BJP.  

    Sami calls the BJP our open enemy.  He says it is dangerous and will divide the people in the country.
     
    Modi brushes aside such fears in his campaign speeches, saying he remains committed to the country’s secular identity.  His efforts to dispel concerns appears to be succeeding, as his image as an effective administrator is overriding fears of anti-Muslim bias.  

    Opinion polls show Modi remains the front-runner in the upcoming election.  The BJP is not projected to win a parliamentary majority, but hopes to stitch together an alliance.      

    Independent analyst and former journalist Ajoy Bose says Modi is being made out to be “larger than life.”   

    “There is a great disenchantment with the Congress's own past 10 years," said  Bose. "Modi promises a change, Modi promises to be decisive, all the things which the Congress has failed to be.  They have had a prime minister who seems to be in denial over his responsibilities as prime minister, so Modi is a powerful figure ...  I do not think there is much of an emotional connect with him [Modi], there is of course a mental connect with a man who can get the country going.”

    Bose says Modi is also backed by big business, which sees him as a man who can pull India out of its economic stagnation.  

    Political analysts say there is a Modi "buzz," but there is no Modi "wave” and caution India’s massive electorate is so diverse that results are often hard to predict.  But they agree he appears to represent what a young country is seeking: hope, change, and leadership.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Muhammad Rafique from: Ahemedabad
    April 27, 2014 5:16 PM
    All islamic nation was in minority population,ppl accept Islam ,Islam will come in majority it's a process of islamic world,but in India,modi wants a India will become hindu rashtra,he loves his religion and try to accept this rule of hindutva of all of indian citizen,but all modi bhakt plz yajurvada writes no good advice to shudra ( backward class of India),Islam teach all human Arabic or Africa or any equal at gods eye,hindu belief is very old and real vaidic belief was tortured by Brahmins of India,in Islam we believe all civilisation was come from one father and mother,being human,don't worry stop muslim or cleansing muslim no matter to muslim,bcs muslims life start after death

    by: suzane from: USA
    April 01, 2014 12:30 AM
    Modi is required for controlling Islamic world. When Muslims are in minority, they advocated peace and secularism. Once they reach 50 percent or above, there is no place for non-Muslims. Look at any Muslim majority countries in the world. Western media are – if not biased – do not present the things from complete perspective. Modi accused of not controlling Hindus when Muslims were being killing when he was chief minister of Indian state of Gujarat. Now many people not know why Hindus were killing Muslims. It was happened because Muslims have started that riot by burning Hindu pilgrims returning from pilgrimage and that is without any provocation. Without any provocation – unfortunately yes. Muslims burnt whole boggy of train, rapped women and thrown people back to burning train who were trying to escape. If you look at Indian history where Muslims have ruled some 800 years, there were thousands of such kind of instances on record. Now you people tell, what majority community (Hindus) would do to Muslims if such kind of things happened?

    by: powerandprivilege from: USA
    March 31, 2014 6:18 PM
    Riots occur even after a basketball game [e.g., Tucson, AZ]. Modi is a nationalist in a Hindu majority nation, who has an election manifesto, "INDIA FIRST." An economically strong and healthy India is in the best interest of a global economy. Let us plan our foreign policy wisely - at least this time!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora