The US Congressional Research Service in its report has spoken highly of Modi to the effect that he could be the force that has the capability to lead India in the next century. With the report citing the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 resulting in a dent in the BJP's image, the efforts of Modi in the state has evoked much praise. The report quotes -
Yet among the party"s likely candidates for the prime ministership in future elections is Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has overseen impressive development successes in his state, but who is also dogged by controversy over his alleged complicity in lethal anti-Muslim rioting there in 2002 (Modi has in the past been denied a U.S. visa under an American law barring entry for foreign government officials found to be complicit in severe violations of religious freedom).
The report also makes it a point to mention the notable achievments under the Modi-regime that saw the state prosper in multiple fields including agriculture, industry, employment and other sectors. It says -
Perhaps India"s best example of effective governance and impressive development is found in Gujarat (pop. 60 million), where controversial Chief Minister Narendra Modi has streamlined economic processes, removing red tape and curtailing corruption in ways that have made the state a key driver of national economic growth. Seeking to overcome the taint of his alleged complicity in deadly 2002 anti-Muslim riots, Modi has overseen heavy investment in modern roads and power infrastructure, and annual growth of more than 11% in recent years. The state has attracted major international investors such as General Motors and Mitsubishi and, with only 5% of the country"s population, Gujarat now accounts for more than one-fifth of India"s exports.
With US taking cognizance of the immense growth potential India can achieve, the fact that the country is marred by communal conflict acts as a deterrant to India's growth story. In a detailed account of the Godhra riots that has become a black mark in Modi's report card, the US Congressional report cited -
In 2002, another group of Hindu activists returning by train
to the western state of Gujarat after a
visit to the Ayodhya site of the now razed Babri Mosque (and a proposed Hindu temple) were attacked by a Muslim mob in the town of Godhra; 58 were killed. Up to 2,000 people died in the fearsome communal rioting that followed, most of them Muslims. The BJP-led state and national governments came under fire for inaction; some observers saw evidence of state government complicity in anti-Muslim attacks. In February 2011, a court found 31 Muslims guilty of setting fire to the train; another 63 people were acquitted. Of those convicted, 11 were sentenced to death and the remaining 20 to life imprisonment.
The report also clarified its decision on the visa denial to Modi and stated -
In 2005, the State Department made a controversial decision to deny a U.S. visa to Gujarat Chief Minster Narendra Modi under a U.S. law barring entry for foreign government officials found to be complicit in severe violations of religious freedom.291 The decision was strongly criticized in India. In 2008, a Gujarat state government commission exonerated Modi, claiming to have found “absolutely no evidence" that he or his ministers had acted improperly.