India's Opposition Names Prime Ministerial Candidate, Sparks Controversy

India

INDONESIA

Sabtu, 12 Okt 2013 13:23 WIB

Author

Bismillah Geelani

India's Opposition Names Prime Ministerial Candidate, Sparks Controversy

India, Prime Minister candidate, Narendra Modi, Bismillah Geelani

Activists celebrated as India’s main opposition party the BJP announced its candidate for the country’s next Prime Minister.

They shouted “Narendra Modi is the leader India needs”.

“In all recent indications, our own assessment of public opinion and opinion polls have all indicated that Narendra Modi’s popularity amongst most of his contemporaries within the BJP and outside, he is quite ahead,” senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley explains.

Modi is currently the Chief Minister of the Gujarat state for the third consecutive term.
 
And many praise him for making impressive economic progress in the past 12 years.

Businessmen like Sunil Alagh say Modi has made Gujarat a perfect destination for investment.

“When you compare Modi with everybody else or Gujarat government to all other states, it’s amazingly in favour of Gujarat. The growth over the last decade has been the highest ever and Gujarat definitely leads the way.”

But despite the success Modi has not been able to rid themselves of the shadow of 2002 communal riots.

Nearly 2000 Muslims were killed in the riots and Modi has been accused of initiating and condoning the violence.

“This is a leader that has sat over riots and I believe colluded with it and helped it happen, that has encouraged encounters where his own Home Minister has been arrested,” says Shoma Chowdhary, a political editor of a weekly news magazine Tehelka.

The US government continues to refuse Modi a visa because of his alleged role in the riot.

He hasn’t been convicted by any court and he has never apologised... something that many believe was the least he could have done.

But that’s not what the Muslim community wants says Aamir Raza Hussain, a Muslim theatre director.

“We don’t want an apology. We want the wrongs of the riot to be corrected. We want all those who were hurt in 2002 to be rehabilitated with honor and justice. We want all those who are responsible for 2002 to be punished.”

The BJP’s choice for Prime Minister has shocked many, even some of the party’s most senior leaders.

BJP’s founding member LK Advani publicly opposed the decision.

Sudhindra Kulkarni is Advani’s close aide.

“One can understand the enthusiasm among the party cadre. After all the party has been out of power for 10 years. And it’s natural for the party to get enthused when someone who popular among the party workers is declared as the PM candidate. But there’s a much much larger constituency which is not convinced. History will show that the choice it has made was a wrong choice.”

But senior journalist Swapan Dasgupta has other perspective.

“It may be cruel to say so today but Advani’sintervention is in the nature of a footnote today. I think people are not looking at the past now, they are looking at something for the future.”



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