Combined global inquest
International media have been closely monitoring Lok Sabha elections in India and conclude that Modi is unlikely to compete with his performance in 2014
The world is also eagerly waiting for the outcome of 2019 Lok Sabha elections in India. International media is abuzz with the assessment of the political situation that will emerge after elections in India and its impact worldwide. Global eyes are focused on the question whether Narendra Modi will return as the prime minister or not? None of the world press or psephology experts or think tanks seem assured for Modi getting a clear majority for his Bhartiya Janata Party to form the government this time.
Major American news publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, Newsweek and Time magazine have expressed serious apprehensions about Modi's return in the editorial comments, articles and news reports published during the past one-and-a-half month. TV Channels CNN, CBS, Fox and ABC have aired programmes discussing the possibility of a change in government in India after these elections and its impact on Indo-American relations.
Time magazine has recently published a controversial article and named Modi as India's 'Divider-in-chief'. It said that 'world's largest democracy is more divided than ever' and questioned whether India can endure five more years of Modi government? The New York Times has published numerous opinion pieces discussing 'can India's prime minister maintain the power he has grasped?' The Economist sees the current contest as a 'struggle for India's soul'. A perceptive observer pointed out that under Modi, India's ruling party poses a threat to democracy. The adjectives and verbs used for the leader: despicable, dangerous, brutal, disaster, alienating, bullying, controlling, hounding, impetuous, wayward, excessive, and flamethrower.
In an article published by The Washington Post, there are strong mentions of the failure of Modi's promise to transform India. 'In the world's biggest election, India's Narendra Modi pushes fear over hope', says the article and continues hammering Modi by telling the readers that 'five years later, those lofty expectations have not been met. The economy is not creating enough jobs, while farmers are struggling with debt and rising costs.'
Financial Times, Britain's leading business daily, in its coverage of India, is extensive. It has published an article with the title 'Narendra Modi cannot take the backing of Indian business for granted'. The article underlines that 'one of the most vital challenges facing Modi government is the dire state of the country's state-owned banks, which account for two-thirds of national banking assets and have been hamstrung for several years by a mass of non-performing corporate loans.'
An article published by Le Monde in France says, 'Fundamentally, the real issue at stake in this election is the Constitution in India of a left-wing coalition, both egalitarian and multi-cultural, the only coalition capable of beating the pro-business and anti-Muslim nationalism of BJP.' While discussing Indian election scenario in detail the article strongly mentions, 'Modi is massively funded by big Indian businesses.' Newspaper La' Figaro also did not trail behind in giving space to raising serious doubts against Modi rebounding in 2019 elections. Channels such as TV 5 Monde have also aired programmes expressing doubts over Modi's return after elections.
Similar doubts have been raised prominently in various news reports in British newspapers Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Times, and The Telegraph. The discussions on major TV channels like BBC, ITV Network, and Channel Four also depict an uncertain picture of the outcome of India elections. A lookup of Australia's channels – ABC, SBS, Seven West Media and newspapers such as Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and Herald Sun also suggest that international media has been unsure of Modi's come back as prime minister throughout the electioneering in India. Canada's Toronto Sun and The Globe and Mail newspapers were full of news stories that depicted a totally confused polling trend. Community television and radio channels of Canada have also been strongly supporting a similar scenario.
Ebullience in the Middle East and the Arab world over Indian elections had been phenomenal. Channels like Geo TV, Orbit Channel, Dubai TV, Bahrain TV, Al Jazeera, and Al Arabia and publications such as Gulf Tribune, Gulf News and Khaleej Times played exuberantly in discussing poll prospects for Modi and his BJP. Indian prime minister's 'radar remark' had a very strong negative impact on the image of India's leadership quality validating question about the future of our country in case BJP returns to power. Khaleej Times wrote, 'It's a pity that the Indian Air Force had to learn from Modi that it takes only a few cumulus clouds to dodge air radars.'
Participants in panel discussions on Star News of Japan and Channel 5 of Singapore observed that BJP will not be in a position to cross 200-mark in Indian Parliament after the elections. When RSS ideologue and BJP's national general secretary Ram Madhav expressed his apprehensions on getting a clear majority by his party in an interview, his sentiments got vide coverage in international media. The scholars associated with various think tanks in different country quoted Madhav in support of their argument that it is not easy for Modi this time to reappear in a similar position that he enjoyed in 2014.
In African countries too, the trepidation about Modi's unscathed position was no less. TV and print media in the whole of Africa was blowing with debate on BJP's chances of return. Channels – RTB, TV Africa, Multi TV, RTG, EM TV, Tele Sahel, and Sky NEWS transmitted a number of shows focusing on India's elections and in most of them, the assumption of the uncertainty of the outcome was strongly sunny. Newspapers Asianet Africa, Sunday Times and Die Son especially lend coverage to elections in India with headlines that suggest that it's not a cakewalk for Modi this time.
Media in China, though did not communicate that it is absolutely sure of the arrival of the current government in India again, always indicated its inclination for 'a more stable coalition in India'. China Central Television, Beijing Television and CCTV-13 built up an argument that even if BJP does not get a clear majority, it will enjoy the position of the single largest party after the elections and would be in a situation to form more well-built political alliance than the current opposition allies. People's Daily, Global Times, China Daily and Shanghai Morning Post have been ferrying the similar ruckus. Hong Kong's TVB channel showed discussions on similar lines and HK newspapers such as South China Morning Post, Headline Daily, and Oriental Daily News also gave shape to this idea.
In an article published by Global Times of China, it indicated that five years of Modi did not yield required fruits by saying, 'The country needs an efficient government, which is capable of addressing public issues, such as increasing employment.' It also raised a question, 'Even if it is said that India's election is the best demonstration of democracy, will it produce a government which can realise its goal? Or is it just a show?'
To see the response to this inquest, wait only for three more days.
(The author is Editor & CEO of News Views India and a national office bearer of the Congress party. Views expressed are strictly personal)