Friday, March 18, 2005

Nevermind Narendra (Modi Demoted)

Sepia Mutiny reports that Narendra Modi (BBC Profile) has been denied a Visa to visit the U.S. Check out the vigorous comments debating the implications on SM. Especially check out Congressman Joe Pitts' letter to the State Department, which someone posted.

How the mighty have fallen: Modi was getting positioned as a possible Prime Ministerial candidate a couple of years ago. It was going to be him or L.K. Advani... things were looking bad, remember?

It is a little strange though. Modi is still running Gujurat, hasn't been indicted or convicted of any crime (even if many of us think he's guilty), and is still a mainstream political figure in India. So: is it possible that the Congress Party leadership made a call to Washington yesterday? Perhaps they wanted to derail what looked to be a good publicity spot (and more importantly, fund-raising mission) for the BJP?

I somehow doubt that the State Department would make this move against a powerful elected official in India without some kind of pressure from the Indian leadership at the Centre.

See Locana on this.

Also see Sepoy, who is actually horrified by this. Sepoy feels this is a form of censorship, and is no different from the State Department's denial of a Visa to Tariq Ramadan. Though Ramadan is a "progressive" Muslim, his case might be similar to Modi's: he is suspected by some people of having terrorist connections (partly because his grandfather started the Muslim Brotherhood), but none of them have ever really been substantiated directly. Sepoy is right that it works both ways; in principle, until a person is tried for a crime, he or she shouldn't be penalized with a denied visa.

Then again, it seems highly unlikely that Modi will ever be tried for anything. And if he were, it's even more likely he would be acquitted. L.K. Advani, if you remember, was acquitted for his role in the destruction of the Babri Masjid. Also acquitted were the Congress Party members who allegedly fanned the flames of the massacres of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984. (At least one of them is still an MP in Delhi.) And don't get me started on the Best Bakery Case... Since you pretty much have to walk around for a month waving around a bloody sword to be convicted of a communalism-related crime in India, perhaps foreign governments are justified in using their own judgment in noticing that someone seems to have blood on his hands, even if the evidence has not been weighed properly in a court of law.


Ms. World said...

Now I have to do research on the Best Bakery case because I've never heard of it!

9:28 PM  
Buchu said...

so my thoughts on this are a bit confused. my gut instinct is actually to say: oh no.

let's get this clear. i'm no fan of modi. i hate him. i absolutely detest the man. he's a genocidal maniac. however, he hasn't been indicted by either a court of law or by any commission in india. he's an elected representative of the people. and so if the US denies him a visa because they think he's a problematic chap, it opens the door for them to deny other ppl they think are equally problematic, and whose political views i agree with.

this also links to my view about how to deal with the sangh. i don't think stopping them from speaking on US campuses is a great idea. what would be much more effective is to have people turn up, ask them tough questions and show them up for what they are.

my gut feeling is that when they open their mouths, they betray themselves and prove how illogical some of what they say are. and unlike the gujarat elections where modi's inflammatory remarks could have clearly had an impact on the lives of ordinary muslism, his remarks here might just end up alienating an entire generation. or at least we must make sure, by questioning and proving how wrong he is, that an entire generation knows who he is and what he is like. by preventing him from travelling, my fear is that he'll become some kind of martyr?

just my two cents.

10:24 PM  

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