UK media gives qualified thumbs-up to PM Narendra Modi’s resounding win
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s landmark win made front page news in the British media on Friday, with extended coverage in inside pages, but qualified it with editorials that highlighted populism and his alleged divisive appeal.
The Financial Times used a photo of PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah on the front page with the words ‘Winning hand: Modi landslide clears way for BJP’s New India reform drive’. Inside, its main editorial was titled: ‘Modi should opt for reform, not division’.
The Times reported over two pages with a large photo of BJP supporters celebrating, with the headline: ‘Modi defies doubters with landslide vistory’, while The Daily Telegraph used two photographs with the headline: ‘Modi sweeps back to power in landslide for populism’.
The Guardian has a mention on its front page with the headline: ‘Modi scores huge victory in Indian election’, and two pages inside on the results that included a focus on the dwindling fortunes of the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family.
However, its second editorial has the headline: ‘Modi wins the struggle for his nation’s soul, but poses a threat to its democracy’. The same editorial has a different headline online: ‘The Guardian view on Narendra Modi’s landslide: bad for India.’
Such editorial comments raised hackles among many in the Indian community.
Industrialist Swaraj Paul said: “There is no danger to democracy as the western media keeps saying; instead, democracy has been strengthened over the last 70 years. The media should look at how India has changed considerably, and faster than what people give it credit for”.
“Indira Gandhi was similarly criticised by the western media, but look what a great prime minister she turned out to be. Similar is the case with Modi. The western media should move on from earlier notions about India.”
“The media here should see that Modi has been a leader for all Indians, whatever their religion. He is seen by other countries as a world statesman, and has given India back its self-respect. He has restored India’s standing in the eyes of the world,” Paul added.
Madhukar Ambekar, a retired doctor, said the British media often goes wrong on facts about India, adding that the latest comment about Modi did not surprise him. Several attempts to correct the facts by writing to news organisations since the 1980s have gone unacknowledged, he regretted.
Kuldip Shekhawat, president of the Overseas Friends of BJP, said letters of protest against the language used in reports and editorials on the election results in the British media were in the process of being sent to news organisations.
BBC and other television channels covered the election closely and prominently over the past few weeks.