Indian Elections and Sri Lanka: fresh start or more of the same?
Posted on May 14th, 2014

By Susantha Goonatilake

The Indian elections are now on. And they might have repercussions on Sri Lanka. India is the only country that after Independence has interfered directly in Sri Lanka. This was with a Congress government training and arming around one dozen Tamil groups.

Since 1989 that is for nearly 25 years India has not had a single party ruling the country, coalitions dominating. These included regional chauvinist parties like the various off-shoots of the DMK or some that catered for particular castes like the Dalit-oriented Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati.

How Sri Lanka understands these changes will be vital for our foreign relations. The Congress formed nearly 130 years ago and which ushered in Indian Independence has been dominated in recent decades by the relatives of the Nehru family. The BJP based on a “Hindu” ideology has been traditionally upper caste but is at the present polling well across castes. Modi, the BJP leader however, comes from a backward caste.

The polls claim that the BJP would get the largest number of seats. Its leader Modi says that his emphasis is on development taking as an example, his State of Gujarat (which had grown around 10 percent every year for the last few years. His detractors say that under him, anti-Muslim riots killed thousands resulting in the U.S. denying a visa to Modi.

The BJP manifesto declares that “the Congress… has failed to establish enduring friendly and cooperative relations with India’s neighbours”. It adds, “India has long failed to duly appreciate the full extent and gamut of its soft power potential”. “Soft power”means the use of cultural factors like belief systems. Both India and China have been using Buddhism, the common underlay for the whole of Asia for soft power politics. (Sri Lanka, the longest continuous Buddhist culture in the world had not even thought of this as a foreign policy instrument).

Modi has been campaigning with a picture of Rama behind him. The BJP shot to notoriety when in 1992 a mob they instigated demolished the Babri Mosque built in the 16th century by Muslim rulers on; The BJP alleged it was the site of an earlier temple to Rama, the hero of the Ramayana. The Ramayana however, has no historical basis and is actually derived from the Dasaratha Jataka story and is therefore post-Buddhist. Archaeological excavations in 2003 discovered Buddhist ruins below the Babri site with some signs of an intermediate “Hindu” level.

The BJP manifesto states that it will facilitate “the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya”. And nearer our shores, the BJP manifesto assumes as a real bridge, so-called Adams Bridge – the Ram Setu. Indian scientists have dismissed this as only a natural formation between India and Sri Lanka.

The Ramayana is found in Southeast Asian countries including Theravada countries because Hinduism first penetrated them before the coming of Buddhism. In Sri Lanka, the Ramayana carried no importance till the Kotte period. But even during this period, there was Vidagama Thero ridiculing Rama, the hero of Ramayana, as being unable to cross the stretch of sea between Sri Lanka and India but had to build a bridge and having no godlike powers.  Vidagama also attacked Brahmins calling them deceivers of the world with false magic and “invented Vedas”.

“Hinduism” unlike other belief systems like Buddhism, Confucianism or the “Western” religions of Christianity and Islam, does not have a single founder. It has multiple sets of beliefs, the word Hinduism itself derives from what the Persians called the land beyond the Indus River.And in fact, modern “Hinduism” is largely an invention during the late British period.

The Indian Constitution defines Hindus to include Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists with founders and with defined philosophies. The BJP manifesto mentions positively both the Buddha and the Jain founder Mahaviraas part of the Indian heritage. Hinduism in practice has a strict caste system with a significant section of the population Dalits, considered untouchable. It was because of this that Ambedkar, a Dalit co-author of the Constitution said that he “was born a Hindu but will not die a Hindu”. He converted to Buddhism together with hundreds of thousands of Dalits. Upon conversion, Ambedkarites smashed Hindu images.

The return of Buddhism to India was actually started earlier in the successful attempt by AnagarikaDharmapala through his Maha Bodhi Society to wrest control from Hindus of the Maha Bodhi, the place of Enlightenment of the Buddha.

The BJP takes its “Hinduism” seriously, and probably would not invite the Pope as a state guest.The destruction of temples in Goa by instructions of Popes like in then Sri Lanka is still fresh in their minds. During the last visit of the previous Pope in 1999, ideologues of the BJP, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu ParishadVHP demonstrated against the visit. They were incensed when that Pope called for the conversion of Asia. Modi is a member of the RSS. Ashok Singhal once the International President of the VHP termed the LTTE “the armed wing of the Christians”.

The BJP and Modi have been going to the different borders of India and saying that the BJP would be firm to Bangladesh Muslim migrants, and to Sri Lankan fishermen. One of its Tamil executive members, Ganesan had been blaming the Congress government for abstaining from the anti-Sri Lanka Geneva resolution this year.

Ganesan has also charged that Pakistan-backed extremists in Tamil Nadu are being trained in Sri Lanka. Modi has got Vaiko the most virulent supporter of the LTTE as part of his BJP alliance. On the other hand Subramanium Swamy, a BJP stalwart has been consistently anti-LTTE.

Other contradictions abound.

The DMK itself arose from a late 19thcentury impact by AnagarikaDharmapala to form a Dravidian Buddhist Society for South Indian dalits. Over the decades, this metamorphosed into the Tamil Nadu racist movement. In the process, the DMK invented Ravana the villain of the Ramayana, as a Dravidian hero who was resisting the North Indian Rama.  (In Sri Lanka, half-baked commentators have recently distorted history including a lorry driver “expert” who painted over inscriptions to give a non-existing Ravana presence in the country). And today’s Maha Bodhi Society in Colombo seems to have embraced this Rama/Ravana fiction. AnagarikaDharmapala its founder, who fought to regain Bodh Gaya from Hindus, would have been horrified.

Chouhan, the BJP Chief Minister of Madhya PradeshState had a foundation laying ceremony for a Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies. The Sri Lankan President was there and its governing board has both Sri Lankan Buddhists and Indian Hindus.  It is falsely labelled as a first-ever Buddhist university. The first Buddhist University is the Nava Nalanda University in Bihar State (named after the many viharas that once dotted Bihar) started in the early 1950’s with a Sri Lanka-educated monk Kashyapa. And the biggest Buddhist inspired university is the large Gautam Buddha University established in Uttar Pradesh State by its then Chief Minister, Mayawati the Ambedkar following Dalit.

But there is other cross postings between the BJP and the Mahabodhi Society of India. In 1949 Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee, today with the BJP, was the Mahabodhi President receiving the relics of Sariputta and Moggalana, the key disciples of the Buddha. More recently, another VHP stalwart was for some time head of the Indian Mahabodhi Society. And while Chouhan was laying the foundation for his Buddhist/Hindu University in the presence of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the LTTE supporter Vaiko and his gang were arrested for demonstrating against Rajapaksa’s presence. Vaiko is today supporting the BJP.

There are other facets. Vijaya, the legendary first prince of Sri Lanka is claimed as their own by both Gujarat and Bengal (the latter even having a “Yatra” play on him). And Ezhavas, the second largest caste group in Kerala claims that they are displaced Sinhalese.

Regional and ideological tensions will become a factor in any future Indian government.These would loom large as India dissolves into competing factions and held together by a central government. Sri Lanka’s foreign policy hasn’t pressed these many buttons within the Indian polity and society. The USA with nearly a million deaths on its hands in Iraq and Afghanistan is targeting both Modi and Sri Lanka. Maybe if Sri Lanka plays our cards correctly, in both changing India and rising Asia, the two countries could come together. In the Non-Aligned days, decades ago, they did.

20 Responses to “Indian Elections and Sri Lanka: fresh start or more of the same?”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Modi is ONLY concerned about HINDUS and NOT Buddhists.

    The ONLY benefit of Modi is Endia will fall into anarchy. There is a strong chance Endia may break up into small pieces during Modi’s rule.

  2. Muhandiram Says:

    Sinhalese Buddhists are too week to fight Islam and Muslims…..otherwise no need to propagate hatred to fight Muslims,rather we have to adopt the teachings of Our Gautama Buddha.if Buddhists live as preached by Gautama Buddha,there will be good families and automatically Buddhists will racism we can create many racists,outcome will be chaos and destruction.(also be careful to mess with Muslims,so called mighty soviet union,US and Russian federation to failed).

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    A friend sent me an e-mail regarding Adam’s bridge and recent Satellite imagery that shows “human development”. I lost that e-mail so I Googled “Satellite imagery of Adam’s Bridge showing human development” and I quote from an article titled “NASA Images Find 1,750,000 Year Old Man-Made Bridge”. Excerpts from that article:

    “The NASA Shuttle has imaged a mysterious ancient bridge between India and Sri Lanka, as mentioned in the Ramayana. The evidence, say experts matter-of-factly, is in the Digital Image Collection. The recently discovered bridge, currently named as Adam’s Bridge and made of a chain of shoals, 30 km long, in the Palk Straits between India and Sri Lanka, reveals a mystery behind it. The bridge’s unique curvature and composition by age reveals that it is man-made. Legend as well as Archeological studies reveal that the first signs of human inhabitants in Sri Lanka date back to the primitive age, about 1,750,000 years ago and the bridge’s age is also almost equivalent.”

    “Space images taken by NASA reveal a mysterious ancient bridge in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka. The recently discovered bridge currently named as Adam&laqno;s Bridge is made of chain of shoals, c.18 mi (30 km) long. The bridge&laqno;s unique curvature and composition by age reveals that it is man made. The legends as well as Archeological studies reveal that the first signs of human inhabitants in Sri Lanka date back to the a primitive age, about 1,750,000 years ago and the bridge&laqno;s age is also almost equivalent.”

    “This information is a crucial aspect for an insight into the mysterious legend called Ramayana, which was supposed to have taken place in tredha yuga (more than 1,700,000 years ago). In this epic, there is a mentioning about a bridge, which was built between Rameshwaram (India) and Srilankan coast under the supervision of a dynamic and invincible figure called Rama who is supposed to be the incarnation of the supreme. This information may not be of much importance to the archeologists who are interested in exploring the origins of man, but it is sure to open the spiritual gates of the people of the world to have come to know an ancient history linked to the Indian mythology.”

    Regarding the DMK and the possible governance of the BJP. According to the “Hindu Times” the DMK has distanced itself from the BJP and Modi on the excuse of the crimes commited on the Gujarati Muslims. I commented that the DMK or for that matter any of the Tamil political parties had little if anything to say about the Gujarati Muslims when they were attacked after a train filled with Hindu priests was set on fire. None of the Tamil Nadu parties made any stand….till now. I believe the political parties from Tamil Nadu are seeing the writing on the wall. Unlike the Congress party who they easily bullied with threats and led them by the nose to vote against Sri Lanka on human rights issues the BJP will not be so easy to control.*

    I came to the conclusion that unlike the Congress party which is ruled by the Nehru/Gandhi dynasty and tainted by the foreign element of Sonia Gandhi being Italian and her children Rahul and Priyanka are really Eurasians and not pure Indians. This issue is very significant in a nation with a growing nationalist movement founded in the Bharata Janata Party (BJP) and its more radical arm the Shiv Sena.

    Too many comments have been made of the “Italian connection” right into the heart of New Delhi. This along with the terrible economic situation in India where growth rate has slowed from a high of 8% a few years ago to the abysmal low level of 4%. This is an economic nightmare considering 80% of India’s 1.2 Billion population are of working age. A 4% growth rate for India is practically “stagflation”.

    The Congress party has also been marred by the assassinations of both Indira Gandhi in the 1980”s and her son Rajiv Gandhi in the 1990’s mainly due to heavy government action both within India (operation Blue star by Indira Gandhi) and outside in the support of the Sri Lankan war against Tamil terrorism that back fired taking the life of Rajiv Gandhi. The untimely and suspicious death of Sanjay Gandhi who led the “youth movement” added to the Congress party’s long list of failures.

    *The Ayodhya crisis was because the BJP , the Shiv Sena and the RSS claimed that the 16th century (abandoned) Babri Masjid was built on the very site that Rama was born. It was the Hindu version of finding the manger of Christ in the city of Bethlehem. The new Hindu temple (if the legal issues are dealt with) would be called “Ramaboomi” Temple or “the world of Rama” Temple. The religious significance of this cannot be understated.

    In the same light on that year the Hindu nationalists wanted to expand their crusade to the northern Hindu holy city of Mathura where another Mosque is supposed to be built on the very site where Krishna was born. The intention was to tear down that Mosque as well to build a grand temple to Krishna. Another Mosque that the Hindu nationalists want removed is the grand Mosque in Varanasi, the holiest Hindu city. Built by the Moguls as an action of spite against the Hindu faith the Moguls tore down numerous temples in that holiest of holy cities to construct this Mosque. To date there is no temple in Varanasi that dates back before the 16th century even though that city is over three thousand years old.

    One more point that is relevant to the Indian Hindu nationalist movement but seldom mentioned is the “Hindu Kush” which when translated into English means “The slaughter of the Hindus”. No other faith has a geographical area named after an act of pure genocide. It is estimated that from the 11th to the 13th centuries 80 million Hindus were killed by Muslim invaders.

    The whole Hindu nationalist movement in India is basically a northern issue that deals with scores of “cultural wounds” inflicted upon the North Indian Hindus. This also includes Kashmir which gave birth to a branch of Hindu Shaivism and where the Kashmiri Hindus have been purged by the Kashmiri Muslims. They continue to live as refugees within India. This is yet another issue that the Secular oriented Congress never addressed. The Dravidian south played a far lesser role during the governance of the BJP in the past.

  4. aloy Says:

    BW, To my mind what interest us here is the part about the ‘Ramayanaya’ and the Adam’s bridge. There are sure signs that an ancient civilized society existed in this land well over 5000 years ago. The discovery of a bund built over 4000 years ago across Mahaveli at the same spot where today’s engineers decided to build Victoria reveals the ingenuity of our people. So, the Sinhalese who came down from North India may not have brought any new skills other than governance.
    It is good to publish all the details of archeological discoveries about the burial ground we have found near Sigiriya. According to an official of archeological department they discovered perfumes, items used by women for their facial decorations etc. buried with the dead bodies. This would not have happened if there was no such civilization. It appears GOSL is not much interested in these. If properly documented and telecast world wide it would be a big tourism promotion material

  5. Dilrook Says:

    Without a doubt BJP/NDA rule will result in nation-wide violence and religious intolerance throughout India. The only legally secular country in the region – India – will cease to be so even on books. Hopefully chaos engulfing India will not spill over to the neighbourhood. 2019 election will be a very interesting affair. The shape and powers of India at that time will be far different to what it has today.

  6. aloy Says:

    “According to an official of archeological department they discovered perfumes, items used by women for their facial decorations etc. buried over 5000 years ago with their dead bodies in a site very close to Sigiriya.”

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    Lorenzo said “There is a strong chance Endia may break up into small pieces during Modi’s rule.”

    Arrant Nonsense!

    Under Modi, Indian society will be DISCIPLINED, national infrastructure will be BUILT, its economy will BLOOM, and its foreign policy will be entirely in the National Interest.

    Those naysayers who demonized Modi as a Hindu zealot out to destroy minorities will be proven WRONG. Modi will turn out to be a patriotic Indian Nationalist beholden to NO CASTE, NO RACE, NO RELIGION and NO FOREIGN POWER, and comitted only to the greater good of ALL INDIANS.

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    India vote count puts Modi on course for absolute majority

    By Sruthi Gottipati and Shyamantha Asokan 34 minutes ago

    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Early results in India’s general election put opposition leader Narendra Modi on course for an absolute majority on Friday, handing him an unfettered mandate to launch his agenda to revive growth and create jobs.


  9. SA Kumar Says:

    Hopefully chaos engulfing India will not spill over to the neighbourhood. !
    We followed indian foot step for last thousand of years last eg: 1947 indian got indipendant than 1948 We got it.
    Arrant Nonsense!- cool mate where ever faith(religien) invole it will lead to problm thats all .

  10. Ratanapala Says:

    Time is ripe for an Assertive India and an Assertive Sri Lanka to emerge. It will happen in India. Whether it can happen in Sri Lanka is up to the real forces that defeated the Racist Tamil Tigers.

  11. Lorenzo Says:


    The above article by Susantha says:

    Regional and ideological tensions will become a factor in any future Indian government.These would loom large as India dissolves into competing factions and held together by a central government.

    I AGREE.

    Modi has already WON the election with more than 300 seats. VERY UNLIKELY the result will change when counting completes. In my view Modi = SHitler.

    Lets agree to disagree on the FUTURE and face it when it comes.

  12. Ananda-USA Says:

    Give Modi a chance.

    I do not believe him to be the DEMON his detractors make him out to be. Just like MR, he will not tolerate those who undermine the nation for their own profit and for communal prejudices, but he will be FAIR and JUST to all law-abiding, progressive and patriotic citizens.

    Special Report – In Modi’s India, a case of rule and divide

    By John Chalmers and Frank Jack Daniel

    (Reuters) – Ali Husain is a prosperous young Muslim businessman. He recently bought a Mercedes and lives in a suburban-style gated community that itself sits inside a ghetto.

    In Gujarat, it is so difficult for Muslims to buy property in areas dominated by Hindus even the community’s fast-growing urban middle class is confined to cramped and decrepit corners of cities.

    Husain embodies the paradox of Gujarat: the state’s pro-business leadership has created opportunities for entrepreneurs of all creeds; yet religious prejudice and segregation are deeply, and even legally, engrained.

    If a Muslim enquires about a property in a new development, often the response is: “Why are you even asking?” said Husain, speaking at his home in the Muslim neighbourhood of Juhapura, where filthy slum streets rub against smart new apartment blocks and enclaves.

    Separation of communities is common across India. Nowhere is it as systematised as it has become in Gujarat.

    That matters because the state’s chief minister, Narendra Modi, could soon run the country. Exit polls show that when results of a general election are announced on May 16, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies will win a majority in parliament, almost certainly making him the next prime minister.

    The 63-year-old Hindu nationalist has ruled Gujarat since 2001. He has surrounded himself with technocrats – and also ministers and advisers who promote “Hindutva”, a belief in the supremacy of Hinduism. As prime minister, Modi would lead not just 975 million Hindus but 175 million Muslims, around 15 percent of India’s population and the third-largest Muslim population in the world.

    Modi’s record in his state is clouded by riots in 2002, when 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in a frenzy of mob violence. Modi still struggles to shake off the perception he did not do enough to stop the bloodshed, despite a Supreme Court investigation that found no case against him and his own insistence he did all he could to keep the peace.

    Even some Hindus connect Modi to the riots. Pradeep Shukla, a prominent Hindu businessman and former member of the BJP in the Gujarati town of Bhavnagar said Hindus “believe that, somewhere, indirectly, Modi had a hand in it because he supports Hindus. This is why they vote for him.”

    On the campaign trail, Modi has tried to project a moderate image with a platform that downplays hot-button Hindu issues and emphasises growth and “development for all”.

    But in Gujarat’s neighbourhoods and cities, people tell a different story.


    Husain is one of roughly 400,000 people living in Juhapura, a teeming Muslim township within Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city. Many of them moved there after the 2002 riots. Local Hindus jokingly refer to it as “Little Pakistan”.

    India’s history is scarred by episodes of horrific Hindu-Muslim violence. At least 200,000 people were killed in the months after the country was divided into India and Pakistan at independence from Britain in 1947. The destruction of an ancient mosque in 1992 by Hindu zealots in Ayodhya triggered religious rioting across India. Modi visited Ayodhya on May 5, repeatedly invoking the name of Lord Ram.

    Memories of the 2002 rioting have not faded for the many residents of Juhapura who lost relatives, homes and businesses. And its legacy has been increasing segregation.

    In particular, a property law unique to Gujarat has perpetuated segregation, creating ghettos such as Juhapura and a sense of apartheid in some urban areas.

    The “Disturbed Areas Act”, a law that restricts Muslims and Hindus from selling property to each other in “sensitive” areas, was introduced in 1991 to avert an exodus or distress sales in neighbourhoods hit by inter-religious unrest.

    Modi’s government amended the law in 2009 to give local officials greater power to decide on property sales. It also extended the reach of the law, most recently in 2013 – 11 years after the last major religious riots.

    The state government says the law is meant to protect Muslims, who account for just under 10 percent of the state’s 60 million people. “It prevents ethnic cleansing and people being forced out,” a senior government official who requested anonymity told Reuters.

    Critics say the act’s continued enforcement and the addition of new districts covered by it – about 40 percent of Ahmedabad is now governed by the law – means it is effectively being applied as a tool of social engineering.

    The Gujarat High Court in a 2012 case questioned the state government’s use of the act to block the sale of properties by Hindus to Muslims.

    The Indian Express newspaper said in a recent editorial: “More Muslims and Hindus have moved into separate spaces in Gujarat, finding trust and assurance only among neighbours of their own community, and it has ended up entrenching segregation and shutting Muslims out of the mainstream.”


    Among those pressing hardest for the law to be maintained and extended to other parts of Gujarat are Hindu nationalists, such as Pravin Togadia.

    One evening in April, Togadia sat before a crowd of neighbours in a tranquil residential street of Bhavnagar, an otherwise bustling town three hours drive from Ahmedabad. To bursts of applause, he railed against a Muslim scrap dealer, Ali Asghar Zaveri, who had dared to purchase a property there.

    His forehead smeared with vermillion, a mark of piety, Togadia told his audience they should break open their new neighbour’s padlocked gates and take over the two houses behind them before Zaveri could get a chance to move in.

    “When he comes out onto the street, you should spit on him,” he told the gathering. “Get 10-15 children to stand around and … throw tomatoes at him.”

    Togadia added that if Zaveri did not give up the property, which he reportedly bought for $250,000, they should go in their thousands to his scrap shop and surround it.

    “Take stones with you, burn tyres,” he said, according to a video of the meeting, which concluded with women in the crowd of around 100 people chanting a Hindu hymn.

    The video was posted on YouTube (click here to see). Local police, who acquired a copy, have filed a case of “hate speech” against Togadia.

    Togadia is president of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), a pugnacious group in a family of Hindu nationalist organisations that includes Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    Togadia did not respond to questions from Reuters. According to local media reports, he said news articles about the incident were “fabricated and written with malicious intention to malign” both him and his organisation.

    Modi did not comment directly on the VHP leader’s outburst. But in a tweet widely interpreted as condemnation, he said he disapproved of “petty statements by those claiming to be the BJP’s well-wishers”.

    Modi was not available to comment for this story.


    Bhavnagar is not covered by the Disturbed Areas Act. But in one district of the town, Hindus have effectively imposed it, raising a banner at the entry to a narrow lane that reads: “In this area, locality or by-lane no property or building can be sold or rented to people who are not of this religion.”

    Reuters interviewed two local VHP leaders who said they have made repeated requests since 2004 for Bhavnagar to be put under the Disturbed Areas Act.

    One of the two, S.D. Jani, said Hindus object to Muslims living among them because they are not vegetarian and many have committed acts of terrorism abroad. His colleague, Kirit Mistry, complained that Muslims slaughter cows, which are sacred to Hindus, and that the Muslim population is growing faster than Hindus because they have more children.

    Several Hindus who declined to be named for this story said if Muslims buy property in their areas, the value of their own homes falls. One said the stigma of living alongside Muslims can make it difficult for Hindus to marry off their daughters.

    One consequence of the segregation: land and home prices in Juhapura and other Muslim areas have escalated more than in Hindu areas as the community finds its ability to expand and build more properties limited.

    “Prices have increased so much because the expansion of Juhapura has been contained, not only by walls but also by the building of Hindu colonies …at the periphery of the locality,” Christophe Jaffrelot, a scholar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in a recent column in the Indian Express.


    At the same time, some Muslims in Gujarat have been lifted on a tide of rising prosperity. The state has long been a model of economic success in India given its coastal location, large ports and industrialisation.

    According to National Survey Sample Office figures, for instance, Gujarat is one of the top states for Muslim employment. The national unemployment rate among Muslims was almost double that of Gujarati Muslims in 2009-10.

    But the picture is far from clear. Data from the same source showed nearly one in three Gujarati Hindus had a secondary education or higher in 2009-10, against one in five for Muslims – roughly in line with the average for Muslims across the country.

    Zafar Sareshwala is among those who have prospered. One of Gujarat’s wealthiest Muslims, he owns a chain of BMW showrooms. Sareshwala supports Modi even though his family was financially ruined by the 2002 unrest. His view changed overnight the following year, he said, after a meeting with Modi.

    “He was deeply anguished. He was apologetic about the scale of the damage,” Sareshwala recalled. “Modi promised justice would be delivered and said he would never discriminate against Muslims.”

    Sareshwala estimated that 30 percent of Gujarat’s Muslims now back the BJP thanks to urban development and access to services that Modi has brought. Opinion polls have not projected the Muslim vote in Gujarat.

    “People call him a dictator, I call him decisive,” he said.

    Even much poorer Muslims back Modi. In a dirt-poor Ahmedabad riverside slum of about 150 families, most of them Muslim, five of eight women who spoke with Reuters said they had voted for the BJP, even though Modi’s government bulldozed their rickety homes two years ago, forcing them to rebuild away from the waterfront.

    “Modi has done some good work. Our children can get scholarships and school meals. Women feel protected, and widows get compensation,” said 48-year-old Shabnam Banu, sitting on the floor with her friends in a simple room where a slow-moving ceiling fan did little to alleviate the pre-monsoon heat.

    Still, Banu herself couldn’t bring herself to vote for Modi, selecting the “none of the above” option on election day.

    “Our main fear is he will throw us out of the country,” she said. “What if some of his people come and attack us?”


    In Juhapura, businessman Ali Husain has made it his mission to break down barriers between the state’s communities. Two years ago he persuaded a major developer to sell homes to Muslims in luxury townships on the edge of Ahmedabad, and he is now working with a Hindu company to produce Halal food.

    Other initiatives have flopped. In February, Husain organised a Hindu-Muslim business conclave, sponsored by the state government and addressed by Modi. Few Muslims turned up. “Truly speaking, the Muslims, they are not with Modi,” he said.

    Husain has bought a house in a Hindu area of Ahmedabad, and wants to move out of Juhapura. But his parents are too scared to leave. He is too nervous to even take the sheet off his Mercedes because neighbours might think, after his recent meeting with Modi, he has sold out for money.

    “I encourage Muslims to come out of Muslim areas and live everywhere, to end ghettoization,” Husain said. “But … people are afraid that if they come out the violence could happen again.”

    (Additional reporting by Aditi Shah in BHAVNAGAR, VADODARA and AHMEDABAD, India and by Himanshu Ojha in LONDON; Editing by Simon Robinson and Bill Tarrant)

  13. Ananda-USA Says:

    The Landside victory of the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections has one POSITIVE benefit for Sri Lanka: The BJP does not need the support of other parties in a coalition to govern, and therefore Jayalalitha’s AIADMK (which is also doing well in Tamil Nadu) will be UNABLE TO BLACKMAIL the BJP into acting against Sri Lanka on Sri Lanka Tamil issues.


    Our Correspondent K. Manikandan reports: ” We (the BJP) are very happy. We are now in a very comfortable situation that we do not need to depend on the AIADMK for support for govt. formation at the Centre,” said L. Ganesan (South Chennai BJP candidate). “

  14. Ananda-USA Says:

    It is Modi all the way…

    By Varghese K George
    May 16, 2014

    As trends from across the country emerge, it is clear that Narendra Modi will be the next prime minister of India. With leads in 530 of the 543 seats available, the BJP and its allies were leading in nearly 313 seats, much more than the halfway mark.

    What appears also clear by 11 am, within three hours after the counting begun, is that the BJP is headed for a historic victory and the Congress towards a catastrophic failure. The BJP appears sweeping Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, while Congress mascot Rahul Gandhi faces a tough battle in home constituency Amethi. Mr Gandhi is trailing behind his BJP opponent Smriti Irani in early counting rounds, while SP supremo Mulayam Singh just may lose in Azamgarh.

    Not only has the BJP consolidated in its strongholds such as Gujarat and Rajasthan, it has emerged from the ashes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and blazed a new trail in unlikely states such as West Bengal and Assam. The BJP also was leading in one seat in Kerala – a state where the party had marginal presence.

    With the stamp of Mr Modi writ all over the outcome, the Gujarat strongman has emerged as a pan-Indian leader, who has overcome barriers of geography, caste, class and demography to stitch together an alliance that catapulted the saffron party to an impressive victory. Early last year, when he took over the reins of the BJP campaign, it was gasping for survival, but what followed has perhaps changed the political landscape of India.

    The process of government formation will kick in with the election commissioners meeting the president of India on 19th evening to present him the results of the 16th general elections. The BJP parliamentary party will elect him the leader soon after and the swearing in could be expected on 23rd or 24th of May.

    Equally startling as the BJP victory is the comprehensive defeat of the Congress that has been at the head of the government for the last 10 years. There appeared hardly any state other than Kerala, where the party was expected to hold on to a respectable presence. Party heavyweights ranging from Kapil Sibal to Kamal Nath and new entrants such as IT czar Nandan Nilekani appeared beaten at the hustings.

  15. Ananda-USA Says:

    Bharat ki Vijay … Every success to our Indian cousins!

    Freed from the BLACKMAIL of the congenital RACISTS of Tamil Nadu, India and Modi can now adopt a policy of strict non-interference in internal affairs of Sri Lanka, and collaborate to the mutual benefit of our two nations!

  16. Nanda Says:

    “Without a doubt BJP/NDA rule will result in nation-wide violence and religious intolerance throughout India.”

    – It depends on whether Modi would become Moda like most others in the neighbourhood or not.

    “Give Modi a chance. ”

    – Agreed. Who knows he might be another Bandaranayake and if lived enough may bring the whole region prosperity.

  17. Lorenzo Says:

    Toilet Nadu results

    Fat Jeya – 37 seats!

    Old Karuna – ZERO.

    BJP – 1

    Others – 1 (PMK LTTE Ramadoss dirt. He is with BJP)

    This makes FAT JEYA the third largest party!! Will the witch become the OPPOSITION LEADER? G~d forbid.

  18. SA Kumar Says:

    Todays opposition leader Jeya will be Tomorrows PM !!!
    than What will happen to our Kachcha Theevu ???

  19. . Says:

    Bandu de Silva Says;
    Modi has expressed in favour of a role for Indian States in foreign policy making. Though this did not figure during the election campaign, he had made his comments in important fora earlier. It has to be watched if the idea will resurface if Modi forms a govt after the elections. If this is acted upon by a future Modi led govt. it will not augur well for India’s small neighbours, especially, for a country like Sri Lanka which is already a victim of Tamil Nadu’s direction of Indian foreign policy towards the island nation.
    Pre and election time developments also showed moderate elements in BJP like Advani and Jaswant Singh, both founder members and significant past players losing ground and even being denied nomination. Jaswnt was the one who opened the way fpr a dialogue with Pakistan when he was Minister of External affairs. His book on Mohamed Ali Jinnah had him in trouble with the extreme elements in BJP ( PL see my Review of the Book in Asian Tribune http://www.asianntribune .com/news/2009/09/08/jaswant).
    Both threatened to quit but Advani was prevailed upon to stay on.
    Jaswant Singh decided to contest as an independent. His son too was sacked from the executive position held in the party. This trend of moving out moderates too is not a very good sign. Indian situation is very complex. How it will finally evolve is important to Sri Lanka.
    This is a time SL will need a strong representation in India. A decision on next level of representation has been made already without any consideration for the results of the Indian Elections.
    That is how our Foggy Bottom decides things these days. I have said my piece already in these columns on the choice. An alternative idea was expressed by one “KG” writing in The Island newspaper. He seems to be knowledgeable about the Indian situation and even the suitability of the new choice on the ground he was an archaeologist with Indian academic connections. Perhaps, he will help to reinvent Rama –Sethu!
    The Indian govt. has already extended the ban on LTTE for another five yeras perhaps in appreciation of the new appontment!
    “KG” also gave testimonials to a few other former Academics who served as heads of mission like WS Karunaratne in US, {Ping-Pong ] Sarachchandra in Paris and Wickrema Weerassoriya in Australia, as if he knew of their performance first hand, but only mentioned about Stanley Kalpage who was High Commissioner in New Delhi during crucial years under President JR.Jayewardene from “hear say”. (The word used was “it is said”). One commentator asked me why this different treatment when it came to Kalpage. If he seems to know so much about the India context. I asked the inquirer to ask “KG” himself. He later wrote to me say his response was not published by the Editor of The Island .which he lamented reserves more space for Jehan Perera. I could not make any comment.
    That is how subjective assessments are when one’s own prejudices intervene.


  20. Ananda-USA Says:

    And RIGHT ON CUE, President Mahinda Rajapaksa reaches out to Mr. Narendra Modi to forge a mutually beneficial relationship between out two countries.

    That new relationship should be based on STRICT NON-INTERFERENCE of India in the INTERNAL AFFAIRS of Sri Lanka, and on cooperation in national security and economic growth; anything less would be a continuation of the EVIL PAST.

    While we HOPE for the BEST, we must also PREPARE for the WORST, and should FREE SrimLanka from its captivity to India’s Internal Politics PERMANENTLY.


    Sri Lankan President congratulates India’s next Prime Minister, invites him to visit country

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    May 16, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today congratulated India’s Prime Minister elect Narendra Modi on his landmark win and invited him for a state visit to Sri Lanka.

    President Rajapaksa congratulated Mr. Modi and said that the economic progress could be achieved only through a stable government and he was glad that Mr. Modi would be able to form a stable government with his party’s resounding victory.

    Prime Ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Narendra Modi is expected to be invited to form the next government after the official declaration of the general elections results. The BJP led alliance is likely to get over 330 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

    Votes counted so far suggest the BJP is on course for the most resounding victory by any party for 30 years, the BBC said.

    President Rajapaksa extended Mr. Modi an invitation to pay a state visit to Sri Lanka at his earliest convenience.

    Modi will take oath on May 21 as the next Prime Minister of India before President Pranab Mukerjee at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan in New Delhi.

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