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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora