Pheroze L. Vincent
New Delhi, Nov. 11: Leading British and American
newspapers have questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's stature and
politics days before his three-day UK visit, their analyses of the Bihar
polls reviving memories of the years when he was unwelcome in the West.
Columnist Aditya Chakrabortty in The Guardian has dubbed Modi "one of the most dangerous politicians on the planet".
"Well, imagine any national leader - Cameron, Merkel, Obama -
spending a large chunk of his or her life working for a gang of
religious fascists - one that renowned academics compare to Islamic
State," Chakrabortty wrote.
"Chuck in a long personal history of inciting religious hostility, a
track record of cosying up to big business, and a reputation for
ruthlessness towards enemies. Now put this extremist in charge of a
nuclear state. Worried yet?"
Another article in the newspaper by Pankaj Mishra, which has gone
viral on social media, says: "It is true that Modi and his toadies
embody without shame, ambivalence or euphemism the brutality of power;
they don't give a rat's ass about pleasing illusions. Yet their assaults
on the authorised idea of India are creating a fissure in the unfeeling
monolith through which a humane politics and culture might flow."
Modi plans to address 60,000 people - mostly of Indian origin - in
Wembley stadium on Friday in what Indian TV channels are saying would be
the biggest gathering for an Indian leader on foreign soil.
Business deals of an estimated £10 billion may be signed during the
visit. This includes a purchase agreement for 20 Hawk trainer aircraft.
However, the British media believe the Bihar drubbing has diminished
"The defeat in Bihar was the BJP's biggest electoral setback since
coming to power, after losing in the capital Delhi earlier this year," The Independent reported.
"The election was played out against the backdrop of a fierce debate
about rising intolerance in India, a country that prides itself on
unifying diverse religious and linguistic groups under a secular
The Telegraph of London said: "He (Modi) will also arrive
with his domestic standing weakened after his party was comfortably
defeated in Bihar state elections following a campaign that Mr Modi
effectively turned into a referendum on his popularity# by making nearly
30 trips there for rally appearances and speeches."
The Financial Times said: "Mr Modi's image as a moderniser
focused on national development issues such as sanitation and job skills
rather than on narrow Hindu interests has been badly tarnished by BJP
ministers and rightwing groups. Among liberals and intellectuals and
even moderates in the ranks of the BJP, there has been a marked
deterioration of Mr Modi's reputation in recent weeks."
Foreign media outlets believe that economic reforms in India have
become more distant after the Bihar debacle, which impedes the BJP's
attempts to achieve a majority in the Rajya Sabha.
"The stock market, a good barometer of hope, is down 4 per cent so
far this year," Reuters pointed out.#Modi is expected to face protests
against growing communalism in India. Thirteen British MPs have
supported a motion calling upon the government to question Modi on
alleged atrocities by Indian troops in Kashmir.
Reports said that activists had projected, on the walls of Britain's
Parliament building on Sunday night, an image of Modi wielding a sword
beside an "Om" sign fashioned as a swastika.
Further west, The New York Times has called the Bihar result a message from voters to Modi saying: "Put an end to the hatemongering."
"Poisoning politics with religious hatred is bound to squander the
country's economic potential at a time when India should be playing a
bigger and more constructive role in South Asia and the world," the
Across India's western border, BJP president Amit Shah's remark that
Pakistan would burst crackers if the BJP lost in Bihar is now fodder for
Tweeters have posted images of quiet nights over Pakistan's cities
with captions such as "Exclusive pictures coming from Pakistan, as
Nitish Kumar is leading in Bihar poll."
Modi had faced nearly a decade of visa restrictions from some western
countries, which ended in the run-up to last year's general election.
The November 12-14 trip to Britain could witness his highest exposure to
protest and ridicule abroad, spurred by his fall on the plains of