British muslim leader backs Modi after Wharton snub

Gujarat chief minster Narendra Modi, who is red-faced over the Wharton snub, has found massive support from an influential Indian Muslim in Britain.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2013 00:47 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times

Gujarat chief minster Narendra Modi, who is red-faced over the Wharton snub, has found massive support from an influential Indian Muslim in Britain.

Lord Adam Patel, who is from Bharuch in Gujarat and a Labour member of the House of Lords, has described the US business school's denial to Modi's speech as a blow to intellectual freedom on the campus.

"The issue here is not Modi's free speech… the free speech issue here has to do with the students who in their wisdom chose to listen to Modi but were denied so because of a motley group of activist faculty members," Patel, a successful businessman who lives in the northern town of Blackburn, said in an open letter. "By opposing Modi's visit to Wharton, people are only strengthening the hands of the enemies of justice..."

A copy of the letter, sources said, is being sent to Wharton and also to Modi, whom he had met in January. Though not totally absolving Modi of the 2002 riots, Patel suggested that the way to ensure justice is to engage with Modi "who tasted victory not once but thrice at the hustings." Patel's line echoes that of the British government's.

"Like every politician, Modi can't be seen only in black and white. There are shades of grey, which if one does not accept in totality must debate and critique with reasoning...," he said. "As a Gujarati myself, I consider it to be a gross insult that the CM of my state, however, wronged one might feel he is, cannot express his views at a global forum because a few in the audience dislike him."

Patel used to be a vocal Modi critic, but began moderating his views some years ago, earning him the wrath of Modi's opponents, including members of an organisation that he helped found - Council of Indian Muslims. It has sought an explanation for his meeting with Modi.

First Published: Mar 12, 2013 00:46 IST