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What does Pankaj Mishra have to say about Narendra Modi? Hint: it isn't very generous

Namit Hans | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 8:28 IST

Pankaj Mishra, an Indian writer and novelist, who won the 2014 Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction, has written an article in The Guardian, in which he has lambasted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his 'communal' brand of politics.

The article, titled "Narendra Modi: the divisive manipulator who charmed the world", comes just a few days ahead of Modi's scheduled visit to the United Kingdom on 12 November.

Here are the six important things he has to say:

He starts off by mentioning the 2005 Sohrabuddin encounter case, and alleges that Narendra Modi, in 2007, said in an election rally that Sheikh Sohrabuddin got what he deserved. He further talks about the Dadri lynching case, and accuses the 'Hindu supremacists' of targeting the secular intellectuals, westernised women, Muslims and Christians and western NGOs like Greenpeace.

In the next part, Mishra lashes out at senior BJP figures like Mahesh Sharma and Manohar Lal Khattar for spreading communal hatred and making vitriolic statements against the minorities. He also strongly criticises BJP for the use of the beef issue for communal polarisation, and for attacking the protesting writers and the media.

He also brings up the issue of 2002 Gujarat riots in which more than 1,000 Muslims were killed. Talking about it, he alleges that the attacks were 'planned in advance' and quoted the Human Rights Watch as saying that the attacks were 'organised with the extensive participation of the police and state government officials'. He further talks about convicted people like Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi freely roaming around, and being granted frequent bails.

Attacking his links with businessmen and corporate giants, he writes about Modi flying in a private jet for his swearing-in ceremony, which had the name of his 'closest corporate chum' written on it. The much talked about $15,000 suit, which had the Prime Minister's name inscribed into it, also finds a mention. "Launching Digital India in Silicon Valley last month, the eager new international player seemingly shoved Mark Zuckerburg aside to clear space for a photo-op for himself," he wrote.

Adding to it, he alleges that the earliest supporters of Modi were the richest people in India, as it was a promise of sort for the latter that they would be given special favours and tax concessions. He goes ahead and mentions that Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani were the first people to support his 'grand vision'. He also adds that economists Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya, who backed Modi, were charged with 'poverty-denialism' by Nobel laureate Angus Deaton.

He concludes the article by highlighting that aggressive nationalism and anti-rationalism was not a new phenomenon and it existed in the country much before Modi rose to prominence. "The 'secular' nationalists of the ancient regime are now trying to disown their own legitimate children when they recoil fastidiously from the Hindu supremacists foaming at the mouth," he highlights. However, he ends his piece on a hopeful note, saying that the current phase will pave the way for humane politics in India again.

First published: 10 November 2015, 5:39 IST
 
Namit Hans @HansNamit

Namit works as a sub-editor at the Speed News desk. He is an economics graduate who stumbled into social work after college. His interest in social issues and desire to write sensitising stories led him to journalism. In his free time, he mostly reads about religion and mythology.

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