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TIME calls Modi ‘India’s divider in chief’


Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

INDIAN prime minister Narendra Modi is on the cover of TIME, and the American publication has called him India’s “divider in chief.”

In the cover story “Can the World’s Largest Democracy Endure Another Five Years of a Modi Government?” journalist Aatish Taseer writes: “Of the great democracies to fall to populism, India was the first.”

Taseer writes that the world’s biggest democracy is more divided than ever and “under Modi, minorities of every stripe – from liberals and lower castes to Muslims and Christians – have come under assault.”

He also criticises the economic promises made by Modi in 2014 elections. “Not only has Modi’s economic miracle failed to materialise, he has also helped create an atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism in India,” the piece reads. “Basic norms and civility have been so completely vitiated that Modi can no longer control the direction of the violence.”

The article also criticises India’s opposition, calling it “a ragtag coalition of parties, led by the Congress, with no agenda other than to defeat him.”

Rahul Gandhi has been described as “an unteachable mediocrity.”

However, in another article, political scientist Ian Bremmer praises Modi for India’s improved relations with countries such as China, the US and Japan.  “India still needs change, and Modi remains the person most likely to deliver,” he writes, adding that Modi’s development agenda has “done the most to improve the lives and prospects of hundreds of millions of people” in India.

“Modi has the instinct to dominate and the thin skin of other strongmen, but he also has a genuine track record in providing the kind of reform that developing India urgently needs,” Bremmer writes.

The articles on Modi come as India’s Lok Sabha election enters its end. There are just two polling phases left before votes are counted on May 23.