US media hails ‘India’s moment’ in Modi’s historic win

WASHINGTON (TIP): The American media and foreign policy experts greeted the Narendra Modi-led BJP’s historic election victory as “India’s moment” and an opportunity to revitalize the economy and “shape the way India engages with the world”. BJP’s “landslide victory reflects a changing country more willing to extend governance to those outside the established elite”, the influential New York Times said in an editorial advising the Gandhi family to “hand over the leadership to others”.

“That is the only chance for India to have a credible opposition,” it said The Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory gives Modi, the Times said, “The chance to revitalize the economy and shape the way India engages with the world”. “How he moves forward will matter to Indians clamoring for jobs and development, but also to others, including the US, which sees India as a vital economic and security partner in Asia,” it said.

“The two countries will have to work hard to overcome the strain built up between them in recent years,” the Times said, suggesting “Modi needs to deliver on his vow to make progress, and he and Washington must confront differences on global trade issues”. The Washington Post wondered whether the “Narendra Modi era (would) be marked by an economic boom or derailed by nationalism. “A frequent visitor to China, he (Modi) clearly aspires to show that India can match Chinese dynamism,” it said in an editorial.

“What remains to be seen is whether Modi will be the Deng Xiaopeng of India or its Vladimir Putin, a leader whose economic ambitions are derailed by nationalism and authoritarian temptations.” The US, which a decade ago was rapidly growing closer to India, may have difficulty influencing Modi’s course, the Post said, noting both the Obama and Bush administration shunned him “because of his behavior” during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“Indians already perceived the Obama administration as neglectful of their country; President Obama will have to play catch-up if there is to be a significant US-Indian partnership in the coming Modi era,” it said. Calling the election result “India’s Moment”, the Wall Street Journal said: “The world’s largest democracy makes a statement at the polls: No to corruption, bureaucracy and dynastic politics, and yes to Narendra Modi’s promise of a country ready to do business.” Modi, it said, “inherits a country that is now impatient with its leaders.

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It remains to be seen whether he and the BJP can refashion it in their own image. “But they are clearly determined to try …to change India for not just an election cycle but for years to come.” Ashley J. Tellis, senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, called Modi’s win a “breathtaking landslide”. “A single party with an absolute majority gives Modi the opportunity to redefine Indian politics in a way that the Congress did for many decades before,” he said.

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