Gujaratis in UK hail Modi's victory | india | Hindustan Times
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Gujaratis in UK hail Modi's victory

While his supporters hail his victory, his critics wring their hands in despair and wonder which way the state is heading.

india Updated: Dec 23, 2007 18:03 IST

A large number of supporters of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi among Britain's Gujarati community hailed his election victory on Sunday while his critics wrung their hands in despair and wondered which way the state was heading.

In the east Midlands town of Leicester, which has a large minority of Gujarat origin, the result in favour of Modi was a foregone conclusion. The town maintains close trade and cultural links with Gujarat.

During a visit to Leicester on Saturday, this correspondent was told during random conversations on Belgrave Road, the heart of Asian enterprise that includes a large number of business establishments owned by Gujaratis, that Modi symbolised the pride for Gujaratis the world over.

There was no doubt in anyone's mind that Narendrabhai would win the election, Pareshbhai Parmar, who runs a flourishing store of Bollywood DVDs and CDs, said. So much so that Deepak Patel, a medical student, said that many in the community had taken his victory for granted and it was not really a topic of conversation.

Several shops on Belgrave Road sell Gujarati newspapers and magazines published in Gujarat as well as in London, and the theme in most of them was that Modi's victory was a certainty.

The prosperous Gujarati community in Leicester regularly donates large funds for development activities in Gujarat. Several schools there raised funds for rehabilitation of schools in the earthquake-affected Gujarat in 2001.

There was no reaction to Modi's victory from his critics on Sunday, partly because of the start of the holiday season. Several of them had strongly opposed Modi's visit to Britain in 2005.

A London-based academic, who was opposed to Modi's politics, refused to comment but was pessimistic about the state's future.

In a recent interview, Lord Meghnad Desai, a trenchant critic of Modi, had predicted that Modi would win the election due to the booming Gujarat economy and the lack of any real opposition. Desai has reportedly refused to visit Gujarat, his home state, since 2002 due to the politics of hate allegedly symbolised by Modi.

He said, "Irrespective of what I think of Modi, he has no opposition in Gujarat. The Congress has no credible candidate... it has no vision or strategy. Gujarat has gone so right-wing that it is very difficult to find a secular opposition to Modi, and Congress seems to have given up on the state."

According to him, Gujarat's achievements in economy were not because of Modi's policies. The state's economy would have grown irrespective of who was in power, he said, adding that the state had a liberal economy for ages.

Desai said, "Gujarat has been communalised over 25 years, a long campaign carried out by the BJP, which makes it very unique. Modi has a very bad reputation abroad and rightly so, and it is very unlikely that he will get a national post, the rest of India would not accept him."