Under Modi, India ‘excited to witness vibrancy of democracy’: Ambassador hits back at Irish Times editorial

Indian ambassador to Ireland Akhilesh Mishra also said Modi ‘enjoys unprecedented popularity’.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Narendra Modi.

Four days after Dublin-based newspaper The Irish Times said India’s “democratic credentials have been severely tarnished”, India’s ambassador to Ireland, Akhilesh Mishra, wrote an indignant letter to the editor calling the editorial “highly biased and prejudiced”.

The letter, headlined “Modi enjoys unprecedented popularity”, was an ode to the BJP government in power in India. 

Modi is known both in India and globally for his “impeccable personal character and integrity and thought-leadership on innovative, inclusive governance and sustainable development”, it said. Modi also does not belong to an “elite political family” so his personal life purportedly “inspires millions” who are all “excited to witness the vibrancy of democracy in action on the ground”.

The letter defended Modi to the foreign press by being deeply critical of the Congress party, saying Modi had to fight against a “deeply entrenched ecosystem of corruption” that had been “created by the 55-year-rule, including first 30 years, by a single dynastic party”. It also slid over allegations of cracking down on NGOs and opposition parties by alleging there was a “nefarious, multilayered web of corruption and tax evasion by politicians, NGOs, and media”.

Mishra was also unhappy with The Irish Times calling India an “80 per cent Hindu majority”. This was “quite misleading”, he said, because “Hinduism is inherently inclusive and fundamentally pluralistic”. The fact that the BJP is in power in only 12 out 28 states “can happen only in ‘Hindu majority’ India”, he concluded.

The editorial in question had said Modi “leant heavily on a widespread crackdown on free speech and opposition parties, with hundreds of politically targeted corruption and tax cases filed against opposition MPs and leaders”. It cited the recent arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the freezing of the Congress party’s bank accounts. It also pointed out that “95 per cent of its political cases have been filed against the opposition”.

The Irish Times accused Modi of having “stoked anti-Muslim tensions and violence and seriously eroded the traditional Nehru-inspired secularism of its politics”, with an “intolerant Hindu-first majoritarianism” being the order of the day.

But the Modi government has always been sensitive to criticism in the foreign press. Last month, it did not permit journalists from foreign media organisations to cover the prime minister’s rally in Srinagar. Read about it here.

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