Modi attraction or Congress disenchantment?

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Jospephs Gate

While there is still three weeks before the election results will be known, a large section of the Indian diaspora settled in Australia is of the opinion that Bharatiya Janata Party’s Narendra Modi will lead the next government in New Delhi.

“Modi seems to be the call of the hour and all Indians must give him a chance to prove himself. We hope that Indian voters will realise this and give him the absolute majority so that he does not have to depend on any of the alliances to push India forward on the world map,” says Sanjay Dulloo, a Sydney-based consultant and social activist.

The fact that most Indo-Australians are naming Modi as the next Prime Minister of India does not mean that there is overwhelming support for BJP Down Under. The opinion of the prominent Indians interviewed by this writer seems driven more by disenchantment with the ruling party.

The social and electronic media also seem to have played a significant role in convincing a discernible majority of Indians settled here about the outcome of the Parliament elections, which are also being dubbed as the greatest show on earth.

“The Congress party has lost its gloss,” says Dr Hem Chandra Rao. “Sonia may be wise and tactful but does not inspire being a non-desi,” opines the Sydney-based specialist.

The theme of Congress presiding over a corrupt regime is repeated while talking to a cross-section of Indians living in Australia and so is the hold of the Nehru-Gandhi family over the largest political party in the South Asian country.

“The dynasty charm is fading and Rahul Gandhi cannot seem to restore it,” says Dr Rao, while lamenting the fact that India today “lacks the leadership of the past”.

“BJP may emerge the largest political party as people want a change from Congress and its nepotism and mismanagement of corruption,” says Sydney-based community leader Vish Vishwanathan.

Modi is seen by the Indian Diaspora as free from corruption charges and also as a competent administrator.

“He is resolute, assertive and makes firm decisions,” says well-known radio broadcaster Kumud Merani when asked the question whether Modi would be able to lead India in a better way than its present prime minister Manmohan Singh.

Sydney engineer Vijay Badhwar also agrees with Merani. “Modi’s plus point is leadership and negative point is extremism,” he says, while asserting that the BJP nominee’s ascension to the top executive position would not make any difference to the efforts to control corruption. Rahul Gandhi comes a distant second in this impromptu opinion poll. As far as other contenders are concerned, they are not being taken seriously here.

“Mamata Banerjee? Do not even think about her as a contender for prime minister,” says Dr Nani Gopal Kundu.

The Indian Diaspora also seems to be well-informed about the way major political parties are running their election campaigns. The fact that almost all parties are using the communal card to lure voters is not oblivious to most Indo-Australians.

The meeting between Sonia Gandhi and the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid has not gone unnoticed here. The efforts of the saffron nominee to the prime ministership are also being watched by those Indians who take keen interest in the political developments in the country of their origin. “BJP is trying to revamp its image to a more secular one,” says Merani.

Most of the Indo-Australians interviewed by this writer were also of the opinion that if Modi became the PM it would not make any difference to relations between India and Australia.

Rekha Bhattacharjee was publisher of the erstwhile The Indian Post.

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