Lessons for Canada from the election of Narendra Modi and the BJP in India

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When Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party won a decisive and historic victory in the Indian election, there was a palpable sense of grief among many progressive Canadians of South Asian descent.

The South Asian Research and Resource Centre in Montreal issued a statement under the headline "Narendra Modi—CEO for India Inc.", which detailed a pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.

It occurred when Modi was the chief minister of the western state, which was the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi.

"It is this man, the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’, who is now poised to have the highest and most powerful post in the land, who will now not only have fascist, Hindutva militias and gangs doing his bidding, but will use the entire nation’s  resources to do so—including a huge security force," the centre stated.

The Vancouver-based South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy distributed the statement with its endorsement.

This came after a local magazine created by progressive South Asians, Radical Desi, published a cover story with this headline: "Say No to Narendra Modi". It featured a huge red X over his face.

And in late March, celebrated Indian author Arundhati Roy delivered a scathing denunciation of Modi in an extensive interview with the Georgia Straight in advance of her visit to Vancouver.

Roy described the man who is almost certain to become India's next prime minister as a "communal hatred-spewing saccharine person" who morphed into a corporate promoter willing to use military force to crush poor villagers who oppose industrial projects that will displace them off their land.

"The corporations are all backing Modi because they think that [Prime Minister] Manmohan [Singh] and the Congress government hasn't shown the nerve it requires to actually send in the army into places like Chhattisgarh and Orissa," Roy said.

So how did Modi win such a landslide in the face of such strong opposition from progressives?

Simply put, Modi sent a message to the masses that he's a strongman willing to take steps that other weaker politicians weren't going to consider.

His predecessor as prime minister, Manmohan Singh, is an intellectual and an economist, not known for playing the role of the tough guy.

As the Indian economy's growth slowed dramatically in the past couple of years, the public rallied around the leader who presented the most decisive personality.

It's not much different from Italians rallying around Benito Mussolini in the 1920s or much of Spain supporting Francisco Franco in the 1930s. In both instances, these fascist leaders ultimately created disastrous results.

Here in Canada, we're led by a prime minister who tries to appear like the most decisive politician in the land.

Stephen Harper has succeeded by portraying his opponents, most notably former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion, as weak-kneed.

B.C. right wingers who call themselves Liberals used the same tactic against the NDP's Adrian Dix.

The lesson for progressives is to recognize that the right always campaigns this way. The only antidote is to appear equally decisive in response.

It worked for Barack Obama and it will probably also be a winning formula for the NDP's John Horgan in B.C.

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shriraj

May 17, 2014 at 10:56am

Failed to grasp reasons for modi victory author needs to do lot of home work not just google work

Uncle Jack

May 17, 2014 at 12:06pm

Charlie is absolutely right!!

However, he misses an important point.

The "progressives" ARE weak!!

Kalyan

May 17, 2014 at 1:24pm

another anti-modi article by western media

Secular+2

May 17, 2014 at 4:27pm

Hey Author, Do you know these names? If not Google it & check it out
(1) Sudhakarrao Naik ( Bombay riots 1992)
(2) Rajiv Gandhi (1984 Delhi, Sikh riots)
(3) Akhilesh Yadav (2013 Muzzafar nagar Riots)
(4) Mr Tarun Gogoi ( 2012, 2014 Bodo Tribe/muslim Riots)
And at least 10 to 15 riots what I faced in Gujarat in my city from 1980 to 2002 on every Ramzaan & Diwali. I do not expect a media person is influenced by another media. Media should be influenced by only truth. I live in same city where the riot took place, actually it was not a all riot, it was civil war indeed & system was not prepared for that. Appart from Google please do some maths. In India we have 130 police with bamboo sticks every 1,585,353 crowd.Now Imagine if the crowd of 1585353 x (x)² is doing breakfast one morning & get the news that 58 pilligrims of them ( mostly females & kids) has been roasted in a train coach. I have no clue that you are getting the gravity of that, but still try to relate with worst thing can happen to your city in Canada & if not wait some years & you will see something big scale in Europe. Try to understand why BNP & EDL are growing in UK. You have 49 countries in the world to practice Secularism now google what is 49 countries have common. Another thing most of the so called scholars in India talk bad about Right wing so they can apply asylum in Canada, UK or USA. I guess I gave you lot to Google. And yes I didn't vote for Modi, Goodluck !!

manu

May 17, 2014 at 7:24pm

you need to go to India and see the communal problems . Every year there are riots. Gujarat riots are hyped by congress government for vote bank. People in India know the truth and that's why results are in front of you-- Modi as a prime minister. . Have you tried to meet the families of people who were burnt in train ? Whom will you blame for burning the train.It is good that if you do not know the truth yourself do not put such articles which misguide the readers.

human

May 17, 2014 at 7:45pm

Why are this Noted scholars/ intellectuals talk about the riots involved with non-muslims. Are non -muslims lives of no value at all ? Or are they not being funded to write articles without being unbiased ? Its ironic these kind of bias/irresponsible article spew Venom in the society ! shame on the editors who have no ethics and integrity and aim towards making a quick buck writing anything the dictator orders !

Why did you Bomb Nagasaki?

May 17, 2014 at 10:18pm

Mr Author,
Check this link, he is an Indian muslim leader in parliament and has his own political party. I am sure you won't understand this, so ask the translation from next door gas station Patel guy. You may not understand because you guys have 10 countries to go; who speak English, who look like you or who follow the same traditions/religion what you follow, but have only "one". Fault is not BJP fault is congress who is giving special rights to muslims because of their religion like polygamy etc, I can't get pork in my city because muslims don't like it, I can get Beef although it is forbidden in Hinduism, Is this secularism ? When congress ruled my state I couldn't go to many parts of my city during Ramadan, is it secularism ? I do agree that everybody has right to follow their religion but not on the cost of my freedom.

Indian Muslim

May 17, 2014 at 11:48pm

Canada system---Democrate Vs Liberal Vs Conservative
USA System------Democrate Vs Liberal Vs Conservative
India system-----Congress Vs Less congress Vs Gandhi Dynasty (By the way Gandhis doesn't have t anything to do with "The Mahatma Gandhi", what most of the Westerners think)

Author !!! You call it ? DICTATORSHIP !!! The full form of BJP is "Bhartiya Janta Party" means "Indian people's party" not Indian Nationalist party nor Indian Hindu party. You can compare BJP with conservative party, but it is not an extreme right wing party. Can Candada make ruling party's head who is foreign born? I guess no? Not even a Native,Black or Asian who is born in Canada. We had "Antonia Edvige Albina Maino" as a ruling party leader for Ten years !!! How much progression you want from one country? & then the same country chose "Modi" there has to be some logical reason. You may be more knowledgeable then me I sure you will find out.

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