India's Impending Conservative Victory

Few Americans are aware of the potentially earth-shaking events currently unfolding in India.  The left-center Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which has ruled India for all but eight of its 67 years of national existence, is about to be voted out of power in favor of the conservative opposition under the leadership of Narendra Modi.  As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi turned his state into a pro-business economic miracle that accounts for 72 percent of India’s new jobs and has its lowest unemployment rate.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that we might be shooting ourselves in the foot.

Modi is a free-market capitalist and unapologetic opponent of radical Islam in both its open and surreptitious variants.  He gave a speech recently in the Northeast Indian state of Assam promising immediate and strong action to stop the large scale infiltration of illegal migrants and Bangladesh’s anti-Hindu violence.  “Assam lies next to Bangladesh, and Gujarat lies next to Pakistan,” he said. “People of Assam are troubled because of Bangladesh, and Pakistan is worried because of me.”

With 815 million potential voters, India’s voting began on April 7 and will run through May 12.   Like Israel and the UK, India is a parliamentary democracy.  People elect representatives to the lower legislative chamber (Lok Sabha), and the party with the most seats can form a new government and name the Prime Minister by controlling a majority.  Because one party rarely wins the necessary 272 seats on its own, governments tend to have ruling coalitions.

While most of the parties are regional, two dominate.  The ruling Congress Party and its United Progressive Alliance (UPA) have a European socialist flavor and the weak foreign policy that goes with it.  The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) have a conservative, pro-business tilt with an anti-Communist, anti-Islamist foreign policy.  A “third front,” led by communists, a political gadfly, and larger regional parties appeared to emerge this year; such that by the time I left India last month, it was clear that the BJP would garner the greatest number of seats but could be blocked from getting 272.

With over half the votes already cast, however, things have changed.  Third front leaders have either discredited themselves or faded into insignificance.  Congress is widely predicted to suffer its worst showing in decades due to a sagging and mismanaged economy, numerous scandals, and a sense that it is time for a change.  Narendra Modi has come to embody that change.  Indians across the social and religious spectrum are excited by this man.  The latest poll, conducted by a major Indian TV network, has the BJP garnering 226 seats and its NDA coalition partners taking it to an absolute majority of 275.

The significance cannot be over-estimated.  Absent a conservative majority, the BJP would be forced to cut deals with parties and personalities outside its coalition that could demand it adopt certain policies or refrain from others in exchange for their support.  They could threaten to leave the coalition and bring down the government whenever a proposed action did not suit their interests.  With a majority, Modi will re-shape India into an economic counterweight to China and a geopolitical counterweight to radical Islam.  His free-market, anti-big government domestic policies and strong foreign policy are good news for the United States.

Then why are some Americans -- including some conservatives -- trying to push India back into leftist hands and a foreign policy that has failed to confront the twin threat of Islamist and Leftist terrorism?

A coalition of leftists and conservatives have combined to forward House Resolution 417, which one-sidedly targets Hindus; and “ignores the fact that 80% of attacks in India in 2012 were carried out by the Indian Mujahideen, with much of the remaining 20% carried out by Maoist terrorists,” according to the Hindu American Foundation (HAF).  Ominously, 417 also calls for “minority” (read: Sharia) courts.  The anti-Modi mania is based on discredited charges that he was complicit in Gujarat’s 2002 anti-Muslim riots.  Several investigations and even India’s Supreme Court, a body lauded internationally for its judicial independence, have completely exonerated Modi of any wrong-doing, which also determined that “some human rights activists deliberately falsified evidence and concocted macabre incidents of violence.” The left has kept the drumbeat alive nonetheless and has seduced others to its side.  It has won over Republicans like Frank Wolf (VA), Chris Smith (NJ), and Joe Pitts (PA) who are now wittingly or not helping radical Islamists and Maoist insurgents. 

The left has reason to be concerned.  A Prime Minister Modi will begin dismantling the costly and inefficient tangle of big government programs built up over decades of misrule, the same way President Ronald Reagan did at the start of his presidency.  His foreign policy would be more concerned with overcoming threats than political correctness.  For instance, although the India-Israel relationship has become a significant one, Indian rulers have appeased leftist and Muslim voters with a pro-Arab public stance.  They voted in favor of the Palestinians’ UN statehood gambit; India’s President stood with Bashar Assad, and if you happen to be in the diplomatic section of New Delhi, you can see a building with a large sign that reads:  “Embassy of the State of Palestine.”  Modi, on the other hand, is openly and proudly pro-Israel.  He once told me he would do any joint venture with Israel or the United States.  He also scares the pants off the terrorists and their enablers.  I have seen them shake close up at the prospect of a Prime Minister Modi.

Congressional conservatives, like Kevin Creamer and Trent Franks in this unholy alliance base their anti-Modi animus on the belief that he will be bad for Indian Christians, which does not make sense.  Not only has there been no credible accusation of Modi even abetting anti-Christian actions, Indian Christians themselves are moving into the Modi camp.  "Believers . . . don't have any difficulties with Modi. In fact, they applaud his developmental efforts," the head of the Jacobite Syrian Church told reporters.  I’ve spoken with several Indian Christians, most religious, who voiced strong support for Modi.

I know Narendra Modi.   He is a good man who has supported my human rights activities.  He recently warned China to shed its “mindset of expansionism,” promised a tough stance toward Pakistan, and would be the only regional ally to fill the power vacuum created when the US quits Afghanistan.  This plea is not for Modi; he is running away with the election.  It is for us not to compromise our future and stand naively with Congress’s most radical left, like Jan Schakowsky, Raul Grijalva, and Barbara Lee (at times ranked its most liberal) and “Bagdad Jim” McDermott who famously stood with Saddam Hussein on the eve of our war with him.

Dr. Richard L. Benkin is a human rights activist (“human rights from the right”).  To see if your Member of Congress is standing against a strong conservative bulwark in Asia, go to:  http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-resolution/417/cosponsors?q={%22search%22%3A[%22hres417%22]}.  (Note that two, Steve Chabot and Scott Perry withdrew as co-sponsors after learning the facts.)

Few Americans are aware of the potentially earth-shaking events currently unfolding in India.  The left-center Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which has ruled India for all but eight of its 67 years of national existence, is about to be voted out of power in favor of the conservative opposition under the leadership of Narendra Modi.  As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi turned his state into a pro-business economic miracle that accounts for 72 percent of India’s new jobs and has its lowest unemployment rate.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that we might be shooting ourselves in the foot.

Modi is a free-market capitalist and unapologetic opponent of radical Islam in both its open and surreptitious variants.  He gave a speech recently in the Northeast Indian state of Assam promising immediate and strong action to stop the large scale infiltration of illegal migrants and Bangladesh’s anti-Hindu violence.  “Assam lies next to Bangladesh, and Gujarat lies next to Pakistan,” he said. “People of Assam are troubled because of Bangladesh, and Pakistan is worried because of me.”

With 815 million potential voters, India’s voting began on April 7 and will run through May 12.   Like Israel and the UK, India is a parliamentary democracy.  People elect representatives to the lower legislative chamber (Lok Sabha), and the party with the most seats can form a new government and name the Prime Minister by controlling a majority.  Because one party rarely wins the necessary 272 seats on its own, governments tend to have ruling coalitions.

While most of the parties are regional, two dominate.  The ruling Congress Party and its United Progressive Alliance (UPA) have a European socialist flavor and the weak foreign policy that goes with it.  The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) have a conservative, pro-business tilt with an anti-Communist, anti-Islamist foreign policy.  A “third front,” led by communists, a political gadfly, and larger regional parties appeared to emerge this year; such that by the time I left India last month, it was clear that the BJP would garner the greatest number of seats but could be blocked from getting 272.

With over half the votes already cast, however, things have changed.  Third front leaders have either discredited themselves or faded into insignificance.  Congress is widely predicted to suffer its worst showing in decades due to a sagging and mismanaged economy, numerous scandals, and a sense that it is time for a change.  Narendra Modi has come to embody that change.  Indians across the social and religious spectrum are excited by this man.  The latest poll, conducted by a major Indian TV network, has the BJP garnering 226 seats and its NDA coalition partners taking it to an absolute majority of 275.

The significance cannot be over-estimated.  Absent a conservative majority, the BJP would be forced to cut deals with parties and personalities outside its coalition that could demand it adopt certain policies or refrain from others in exchange for their support.  They could threaten to leave the coalition and bring down the government whenever a proposed action did not suit their interests.  With a majority, Modi will re-shape India into an economic counterweight to China and a geopolitical counterweight to radical Islam.  His free-market, anti-big government domestic policies and strong foreign policy are good news for the United States.

Then why are some Americans -- including some conservatives -- trying to push India back into leftist hands and a foreign policy that has failed to confront the twin threat of Islamist and Leftist terrorism?

A coalition of leftists and conservatives have combined to forward House Resolution 417, which one-sidedly targets Hindus; and “ignores the fact that 80% of attacks in India in 2012 were carried out by the Indian Mujahideen, with much of the remaining 20% carried out by Maoist terrorists,” according to the Hindu American Foundation (HAF).  Ominously, 417 also calls for “minority” (read: Sharia) courts.  The anti-Modi mania is based on discredited charges that he was complicit in Gujarat’s 2002 anti-Muslim riots.  Several investigations and even India’s Supreme Court, a body lauded internationally for its judicial independence, have completely exonerated Modi of any wrong-doing, which also determined that “some human rights activists deliberately falsified evidence and concocted macabre incidents of violence.” The left has kept the drumbeat alive nonetheless and has seduced others to its side.  It has won over Republicans like Frank Wolf (VA), Chris Smith (NJ), and Joe Pitts (PA) who are now wittingly or not helping radical Islamists and Maoist insurgents. 

The left has reason to be concerned.  A Prime Minister Modi will begin dismantling the costly and inefficient tangle of big government programs built up over decades of misrule, the same way President Ronald Reagan did at the start of his presidency.  His foreign policy would be more concerned with overcoming threats than political correctness.  For instance, although the India-Israel relationship has become a significant one, Indian rulers have appeased leftist and Muslim voters with a pro-Arab public stance.  They voted in favor of the Palestinians’ UN statehood gambit; India’s President stood with Bashar Assad, and if you happen to be in the diplomatic section of New Delhi, you can see a building with a large sign that reads:  “Embassy of the State of Palestine.”  Modi, on the other hand, is openly and proudly pro-Israel.  He once told me he would do any joint venture with Israel or the United States.  He also scares the pants off the terrorists and their enablers.  I have seen them shake close up at the prospect of a Prime Minister Modi.

Congressional conservatives, like Kevin Creamer and Trent Franks in this unholy alliance base their anti-Modi animus on the belief that he will be bad for Indian Christians, which does not make sense.  Not only has there been no credible accusation of Modi even abetting anti-Christian actions, Indian Christians themselves are moving into the Modi camp.  "Believers . . . don't have any difficulties with Modi. In fact, they applaud his developmental efforts," the head of the Jacobite Syrian Church told reporters.  I’ve spoken with several Indian Christians, most religious, who voiced strong support for Modi.

I know Narendra Modi.   He is a good man who has supported my human rights activities.  He recently warned China to shed its “mindset of expansionism,” promised a tough stance toward Pakistan, and would be the only regional ally to fill the power vacuum created when the US quits Afghanistan.  This plea is not for Modi; he is running away with the election.  It is for us not to compromise our future and stand naively with Congress’s most radical left, like Jan Schakowsky, Raul Grijalva, and Barbara Lee (at times ranked its most liberal) and “Bagdad Jim” McDermott who famously stood with Saddam Hussein on the eve of our war with him.

Dr. Richard L. Benkin is a human rights activist (“human rights from the right”).  To see if your Member of Congress is standing against a strong conservative bulwark in Asia, go to:  http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-resolution/417/cosponsors?q={%22search%22%3A[%22hres417%22]}.  (Note that two, Steve Chabot and Scott Perry withdrew as co-sponsors after learning the facts.)

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