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Indian Big Business: We Want Modi as Prime Minister


An overwhelming number (74 percent) of Indian business executives want Narendra Modi to be the country’s next Prime Minister, while only a scant few (7 percent) prefer Rahul Gandhi, according to a poll by India’s Economic Times.

Modi is the controversial Chief Minister of Gujarat and the presumptive PM candidate for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, whose main rival, Rahul, is the heir apparent to the Nehru-Gandhi line in the ruling Congress Party. Rahul is maturing politically, but his party is beset by corruption scandals and struggling to manage the most dangerous economic crisis in decades. Indian big business has lost faith in Congress and doesn’t think Rahul is the one to fix things.

Modi, meanwhile, is universally recognized as business friendly and efficient. In 2008, when Tata Motors had trouble with a plant in West Bengal, where it planned to manufacture the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, Modi convinced Ratan Tata to move the plant to Gujarat. Ford, Peugeot, Asia Motor Works, and many other heavy industry companies have also found a welcome home in Modi’s Gujarat.

Modi may be a friend to big business, judging from the Times‘s overwhelming poll results, but to many Indian voters and some governments abroad he is a distasteful figure. Modi has never adequately dispelled suspicions over his role in the 2002 Gujarat riots, and he is under fire for more recent abuses of power, including accusations by a former high-ranking police officer that he approved extrajudicial executions of terrorist suspects. The US still refuses to issue him a visa; England has only recently become slightly friendlier. But with India’s economy in serious trouble, the Congress Party flailing, and Indians and foreign investors looking earnestly for a politician who has the strength, experience, and determination to manage the crisis, Modi seems more and more like the top man for the top job.

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  • Anthony

    Mussolini made the trains run on time. That didn’t mean that he was “the top man for the job.”

    • Jaldhar H. Vyas

      If Modi can make India’s trains stop running backward he will indeed be the top man from the job.

      Really, this whole idea that he is some kind of unique dangerous demagogue is vastly overblown. Unfortunately that’s the way politics is practised in India and none of the parties can claim the right to throw the first stone. Modi is dangerous because he dares to remind the socialists (found in every party including the BJP) that socialism is dead.

  • wigwag

    It tells you all that you need to know about our confused and confounded Commander in Chief that he won’t allow Modi to visit the United States but he considers Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey to be one of his best friends.

    • Jaldhar H. Vyas

      It seems to me it shows that despite our economic success in this great land Gujarati-Americans such as myself are too naive about how the DC game is played. But I’m sure it’ll only take a few well-placed donations before the President “evolves” once again.

  • Anthony

    Where is chief minister in business of land sales for economic development WRM.

  • Kevin

    Rather than knowing who executives at the largest firms support I would like to know who the founders of India’s future firms support. In too many countries policies that big business support are not conducive to economic growth but merely capturing a greater share of the existing pie. (Given Congress’s poor track record in recent years, Modi/BJP are probably better one this score now.)

    That said the US policy of denying Modi a visa is absurd. It might make us feel better about ourselves, but it will almost certainly do nothing to keep him out of power and may well antagonize someone who might be a valuable ally in a couple of years. Trying to meddle in the democratic politics of friendly nations rarely turns out well. Besides if/when he wins we are going to have to change our tune and deal with him and we will end up looking pretty stupid. This debacle inspiration should be teaching us not to draw red lines we have no desire to stick with down the road.

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