Fiery? The fiery duke?

More on Modi from the New York Times.

The fiery head of India’s leading opposition party, who remains under pressure for his handling of an ethnic riot 11 years ago, won a victory on Thursday in one of the many disputes dogging him as he seeks to become India’s next prime minister, but faced a setback in another.

An Indian court rejected a petition seeking the prosecution of the opposition leader, Narendra Modi, the head of the Bharatiya Janata Party, over his role in riots in his home state, Gujarat, in 2002 that killed more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.

But the government ordered a formal investigation into allegations that Mr. Modi’s top lieutenant, using state intelligence and security officers, oversaw wide-ranging surveillance of a woman on behalf of Mr. Modi.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, the BJP, is a right-wing Hinduist party. It would be terrible if Modi were elected prime minister.

The petition seeking Mr. Modi’s prosecution was filed by Zakia Jafri, the widow of Ehsan Jafri, a Muslim lawmaker in the governing Indian National Congress party who was among 69 killed — some burned alive — during the riots when a Hindu mob attacked a Muslim enclave in the city of Ahmedabad.

Neither case is likely to derail Mr. Modi’s growing popularity in India, since his tough-guy image is a big part of his appeal. Yet taken together, the cases demonstrate why he is a deeply divisive figure.

The most serious allegations against Mr. Modi concern the 2002 riots, which began in February of that year after Muslims set fire to a train carrying Hindu pilgrims who were returning from a visit to a shrine. Fifty-nine Hindus were burned alive.

In the days following the train attack, riots rippled across Gujarat, in western India, fed by a strike called by Hindu groups and encouraged by some of Mr. Modi’s close associates. Initial investigations by Gujarat authorities were so suspiciously incompetent that the Indian Supreme Court ordered special police units to redo the investigations, which eventually resulted in hundreds of convictions.

Ms. Jafri claimed that Mr. Modi, a Hindu and chief minister of Gujarat, was criminally negligent and complicit in neglecting to quell the riots. A judge in Gujarat rejected that argument on Thursday.

Nothing like religion for persuading people to live in harmony, is there. (I look forward to the Twitter uproar about my Hinduismophobia.)


  1. Albert Bakker says

    It’s usually called hinduphobia, easier to pronounce I guess. But to call the BJP a right wing party is I don’t know. They’re off any chart that has a left side to it.

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