The United Kingdom (UK) has decided to end its isolationist policy towards Gujarat's Chief Minister Narendra Modi and has asked its high commissioner in New Delhi to visit him. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said that the visit by the high commissioner would enable the UK authorities to discuss various issues of mutual interest and avenues to explore opportunities for closer ties. The step, in a nutshell, will improve the UK-India bilateral relations.
It is a fair enough move by the UK government. But back home, suddenly there is an uproar over this development. Some sections of the media and the Congress started mocking Narendra Modi on this, saying the UK's decision was a sort of approval that Modi was looking for.
Rather, it's UK that needs 'approval' of Modi's Gujarat for economic development
Nothing can be more hilarious than this counter position. The problem with the Indian psyche when it comes to politics is that it only thinks everything politically. But politics of the 21st century is something more than everything political. If we continue to see Narendra Modi through the lenses of '2002 Riots' for the rest of our lives, then we will only see ourselves more dejected than not.
Diplomatic sources have clearly said that this decision was more encouraged by the economic reality than political 'idealism', for the UK, which has been badly hit by economic underperformance, looks to engage more with the economic hub called Gujarat. This actually has nothing to do with Narendra Modi as a person. His commitment to development has earned him the accolades.
West approves good work, we continue looking back
London's decision is not an exceptional move. In 2009, seventeen British firms had queued up for a bid to win infrastructure contracts worth upto $11bn from the Gujarat state government. During this year's Vibrant Gujarat Summit, a British MP had showered praise on the Gujarat CM and even termed him a lion. UK authorities also appreciated the performance of PPP models in the state following a two-year review. For the UK, Narendra Modi is an investor-friendly chief minister and that is the most important thing. Tomorrow, if we see the USA and other developed western countries following the UK's footsteps, it will not be any surprise.
Congress's envy has its reasons
The Congress is clearly disheartened by the fact that Narendra Modi has been given a welcome by a foreign country and that too, just ahead of the crucial assembly elections. This stresses two points.
First, the conclusion of the diplomatic isolation of Narendra Modi in a way gives a big blow to the opposition who just try to defeat him with the riot cards. For there is hardly any other issue which the Congress can expect to use against him. But the thing is that ten years is a long time in politics and while Modi successfully used up this period to emerge into a better ruler, the Congress just wasted its time and opportunities. It failed to corner Modi on the basis of communal cards even in the 2007 election and today, in 2012, the ghosts of the riots have fallen far behind.
Second, the UK's decision indirectly certifies Narendra Modi as a man who is fit to lead India in the contemporary international order. This comes following the spate of humiliation that the Congress Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, faced in the western media, which saw him as an 'underachiever' and a 'tragic figure'. This is a big blow for the Congress's hopes to lead the nation in the future for both its incumbent PM and the 'in-waiting' PM, Rahul Gandhi, failed to get a confidence vote of the west. Rahul Gandhi was termed a 'problem' in an Economist article in the recent past.
Congress a pathetic looser
The Congress leadership has mocked Narendra Modi, saying the latter was happy to get the UK's approval. To this, one may ask a counter question: Why didn't the Congress leaders get a stamp of approval from the west, despite being in power for the last eight years? Narendra Modi has also reached out to countries like China, Israel, Japan and in a way to Africa on matters of economic development and hence, the 'approval process' did not start with the UK. Modi and Singh have been in power for 11 and 8 years, respectively, but the two received different response.
Modi has worked hard to overcome all hurdles
I would also like to point out that Narendra Modi, irrespective of all criticism over issues like 'communal', 'authoritarian' and a prolonged ban to visit the western countries for some time now, went on with his task with great perseverance and ensured at last that he can not be ignored for he speaks in the most appropriate currency of today, i.e., development. Moreover, even if there are allegations, no court has convicted Narendra Modi for any communal crime.
The west, hit by severe economic hardship, can not just continue shunning Narendra Modi on the basis of 'ethics and morality'. Modern-day world does not go by that principle. Have the west given up their engagement with countries like China, Pakistan, Myanmar and many others in today's globalised world just because their human rights records were not the best in the world? No, then what's the issue with Narendra Modi? He is, afterall, a democratically-elected chief minister and a performing leader.
No shame in learning from Modi
There is no shame in learning from Narendra Modi, the Congress should understand. Today, a provincial leader has clearly outclassed national leadership and there is no point in trying to defame the former by recalling old issues. Some of the convicted leaders in the Gujarat riots have been sent to jail but have all those accused in the Punjab riots of 1984 been tried thoroughly?
Why media is worried with UK's move?
Some media reports have asked him to tender an apology for the 2002 riots. Why should the Gujarat CM indulge in such action? Has the Congress leadership ever apologised for its endless scams? Apology is not a popular term in the realm of power politics. Is the media, the self-proclaimed guardians of morality, a bit bothered about annoying its viewers if it supports Narendra Modi?
The Congress, which had ushered in the era of liberalisation in India, has failed to win hearts of the west and still accuse a man, who despite all his enemies, both outside and inside the party, has been doing his work for over a decade now.
The people of Gujarat and the all-important Gujarati Diaspora have ensured that their able leader is not pulled down by some short-sighted and spent-out force, for the latter has only junked the nation's credentials and is in danger of getting wiped off the scene in sometime.