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

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.

Comments (30) Add New Comment
MarkFornataro
It sounds like dark days ahead indeed for India, and perhaps increasingly so in Europe,again, too:
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/05/17/europes_march_to_the_far_ri...
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shriraj
Failed to grasp reasons for modi victory author needs to do lot of home work not just google work
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Uncle Jack
Charlie is absolutely right!!

However, he misses an important point.

The "progressives" ARE weak!!
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Kalyan
another anti-modi article by western media
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Secular+2
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 !!
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manu
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.
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human
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 !
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Why did you Bomb Nagasaki?
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.
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Indian Muslim
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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Why did you Bomb Nagasaki
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I am Not Charlie
Hey CHARLIE SMITH,
Stop unliking all the comments which you don't agree. And if you are that biased then do not work in media. Dare to take reply from your critics too.
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Sk
Western media has no clue what they are talking about. I was in india during 1984 riots as a kid. Guess what no one held congress responsible for it. Secondly why is Muslim deaths more important than non Muslim. Do you know that 1/3 of people who lost their lives in 2002 were Hindus. You are uninformed who is getting his information from cnn.
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Rick in PoMo
@ MarkFornataro

In the UK at least, votes for the far right parties of UKIP and BNP are a protest vote, the same as having a box on the the ballot paper marked "None of the Above".

This is because in the UK, just like in Canada, politicians are not listening to the mass of the people and pursuing a more corporate agenda. If the mainstream parties would truly listen and follow what the people want, most of the far right votes would melt away.
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Bob Skelly
Charlie, your biases are showing.
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Alan Layton
Wow. Charlie you're getting slaughtered here.
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Abhinav
Shame on Straight news for reporting nonsense. Without even checking, u ppl r ready to label him as a killer, just taking the view of muslims. fact is he didnt kill a single person, hes just blamed bcause he didnt do anything to stop d Hindu Muslim riots, even though he tried. the Indian SC has given him a clean chit.

Also, d riots started when d Muslims burnt up a train full of Hindu pilgrims who prayed loudly & looking at d dead bodies their relatives got angry. Really sad to know that this paper reports on heresay.
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Indian
Common people from India! Are you guys saying killing 1000+ people in response to killing 50+ people(not sure who killed them though) is justice ? Are you saying whatever Modi did by not even apologizing but saying "i could have managed the media better. 98% of my people are happy..why are you bothered about 2%? (what kind of stupid statistics is that!". By no means Congress is better option with their corruption. but you just elected a corporate CEO Who will destroy your natural resources, massacre people in the name of "industrialization--development". you can can name those indigenous tribes as naxals/terrorists. but you never care about your selfish needs!" I am sorry! but mark my words, you just dug your own grave!
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@Alan Layton
It's the Pro-Modi faction. India is becoming an increasingly scarier place. Thank god my parents got out when they did. Thank god I'm Canadian.
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@Indian
Hey, It seems you get your knowledge from Bing.com. Did you ever go to Indian supreme court website & check Modi ? All the reporters who reported against Modi in 2002 got the highest Indian citizen award by congress or now they own their own news channels, Coincidence right? Not a single Hindu Muslim riot took place in Gujarat after 2002, Coincidence right? Modi got clean sweep in Goa where 30% population is Catholics, Coincidence right ? Knowing half truth is worst then not knowing anything.
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Manny
If poor people of India are driven out of their land... There is no land problem in Canada.

We can move 600 million who now live in abject poverty due to socialism of the leftis to Canada.

Win Win for all! :)
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