Narendra Damodardas Modi has to be one of India’s most popular prime ministers. He has a dedicated fanbase that supports him no matter what. In 2014, it was a historic win for his party, Bharatiya Janata Party, which became the first Indian political party since 1984 to win a majority of seats on its own. Thanks to the massive victory, Modi became the 14th prime minister of India. It was a unanimous decision to choose Modi as the party leader. The Modi wave swept the opposition off their feet. Modi also became the first Indian PM to be born after 1947, when India got its independence from the British rule.
At the same time, Modi’s victory was considered a new shift in the balance of power. Critics believed that the people of India turned their face away from the secular (as well as socialist) image and inclined towards Hindu nationalism and capitalism. Ironically, Modi received the highest civilian honors of Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia in 2016. His first international honors came from two Islamic countries. Nevertheless, ironies and paradoxes seem to be an integral part of Narendra Modi’s political career.
Modi, directly or indirectly, has been involved in various controversies in the last 15 years. While he was hailed as a highly successful chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, he was slammed by the opposition for his unfair bias for one community against another. He is often accused of discrimination and discrepancy. Here are some of the biggest controversies that Narendra Modi has been involved in.
14 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Narendra Modi is a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, aka RSS, one of the most controversial volunteer organizations in India. The right-wing Hindu nationalist group is often accused of indulging in violence and inciting communal hatred. Founded in 1925, it was first banned in January of 1947. RSS refused to recognize the tricolor as the national flag of independent India. It proposed to have the Saffron Flag as the Indian national flag. It did not recognize the Constitution of India either and demanded to include ancient Hindu scriptures. Nathuram Godse, who killed Mahatma Gandhi, was an RSS member. Soon after the assassination, the paramilitary group was banned again. In 1949, after RSS agreed to recognize the national flag and the Indian constitution, the ban was lifted. The group was also banned after the infamous demolition of the Babri Mosque in Uttar Pradesh. Modi’s association with the controversial group has been criticized many times in the past.
13 Threat Against Indian Muslims Of Bangladeshi Origin
Narendra Modi repeatedly threatened that he would take strong actions against Muslims of Bangladeshi origin, who are settled in India. He announced that he would send them back to Bangladesh. The people who Modi called “Bangladeshi immigrants” were people who had been living in India for generations. With his threat, Modi promised to uproot thousands of families. Experts feared that it would create a critical situation if Modi did that, and Bangladesh refused to take them back. Under such circumstances, the said people would end up stateless. During his campaign, Modi continued to target the community and promised to send the “Bangladeshis” beyond the border with their bag and baggage. Modi’s threat, which many considered racist, apparently motivated some people to take violent actions against Muslims in the Indian states along the Bangladesh border. Tribal militants killed dozens of Muslim villagers in Assam soon after Modi’s anti-immigrant speech in a rally.
12 Reason Behind Malnutrition In Women
Even though Narendra Modi seems to be a popular leader among women, many found it difficult to digest his comment about malnutrition among Indian women. Modi was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal in 2012, when he talked about reasons behind malnutrition among women. According to him, girls do not eat properly because they don’t want to get fat. He gave an example that mothers would fight with daughters over a glass of milk. The daughter tells her mother that she does not want to drink milk because she does not want to get fat. Women’s rights advocates instantly slammed Modi for his comments. According to critics, women’s participation in the work force remains low in the Indian state of Gujarat under Modi’s rule. Modi was also criticized for his lack of efforts to take action against domestic violence. According to some experts, Modi’s political ideology based on chauvinist nationalism is not beneficial for women empowerment in India.
11 Promoting Hindi In Non-Hindi States
There was a government circular in May to ask ministries, banks, and other public sector bodies to use Hindi instead of English on social media. The decision met with strong protests in non-Hindi-speaking states, particularly in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Congress leader P Chidambaram advised the Modi-led government to “proceed with caution.” Narendra Modi was slammed for violating the spirit of the Official Languages Act. Unlike the popular notion among the Indian population, the Constitution of India does not recognize any language as the “national language.” Every language is considered to have equal importance in the country. In non-Hindi states, it was feared that the government’s efforts to promote Hindi might offend those who are proud of the linguistic heritage of their own language. The government softened its tone after the protests. It issued a release to clarify that the new circular was not an attempt to “impose the use of Hindi.”
Modi’s Closeness To Big Corporate Bosses
Narendra Modi is known for his successful “Gujarat model” of economic development. It was one of the big reasons why people wanted him to lead India as the prime minister. People believed that he would be able to bring in a similar kind of economic progress for the entire country. However, along with Modi’s reputation of being a pro-economy leader, there comes the blame that he is too close to big business tycoons. His critics blame him for favoring big corporates at the expense of smaller business people. These big corporates are often accused of ignoring basic human needs for their financial benefits. Modi and his administration were blamed for not investing enough on sanitation and education, while the “Gujarat model” enjoyed a booming economy. In an economically leading state like Gujarat, the child mortality rate was alarmingly high. Even after becoming the PM, Modi is accused of favoring a handful business tycoons.
10 Illegal Surveillance Program
In 2013, Narendra Modi was accused of masterminding the illegal surveillance of a woman in Bengaluru. Amit Shah, the former home minister of Gujarat was the one who allegedly ordered the surveillance program. An audio tape apparently exposed Shah doing the same under the instruction of “the boss.” The young woman was reportedly stalked in restaurants, malls, and gyms. Her hotel and flight bookings were tracked. It was reported that the sensitive audio file was submitted to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by an IPS officer in Gujarat. The opposition accused Narendra Modi of misusing his power against the young woman whose parents were staying in Gujarat. In May of 2016, the Supreme Court of India heard a young woman thanking the Gujarat police for stalking her. By that time, Modi already became India’s PM. The woman requested the judges to discontinue investigations to find out if it was Modi who was behind the issuance of the surveillance program.
9 Modi’s Educational Qualification
Another controversial aspect in Indian PM Narendra Modi’s career is his educational qualification. First, it was Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who questioned Modi’s educational background. He claimed that there was something fishy about it and demanded Modi to make it public. There is no minimum qualification required for any politician to take part in an election. Many people wondered why Modi’s educational background should be questioned anyway. But, the suspicion continued when various government bodies refused to make it public. There was an uncanny mystery about Modi’s educational achievements. The Supreme Court asked the Election Commission to consult intelligence agencies to verify electoral candidates’ educational degrees. But, the government filed a petition against it. The Election Commission claimed in an affidavit that it was impossible to do so within a short period of time. The Gujarat University later revealed that Modi had passed his masters by scoring 62.3 percent.
8 Marital Status
Narendra Modi was considered a bachelor for many years, until it was revealed that he had been married since childhood. Modi was apparently a victim of child marriage, as he got married to a woman named Jashodaben. The controversy took place because Modi never mentioned about him being married in any of his official documents. He claimed on camera that he was a bachelor. Modi used to leave the spouse column blank in poll affidavits. He did so even in the 2012 Assembly elections. It was in 2014 when he changed his stance about the issue and acknowledged the existence of his wife. While he had to declare his wife’s assets before the elections, Modi claimed that he had no information about it since the couple had been separated for many years. The controversy grew more intense when Jashodaben demanded to know what kind of marriage documents Modi had produced to get his passport. It was after her passport application was rejected, as she could not produce any proof for her marriage with Modi.
7 Modi’s Controversial Suit
Modi wore a monogrammed suit in January of 2015 during his summit meeting with former U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama went on an official three-day visit to India. Modi wore the suit during a luncheon with the U.S. President. The suit, which had stripes with Modi’s name woven in gold, was made at INR 10 lakh ($15,000). First, the decision to get his own name woven into the suit was controversial. Critics slammed Modi for his narcissistic choice. Later on, the controversy extended when the suit was sold at an auction for INR 4.31 crore ($6,60,000). Laljibhai Tulsibhai Patel, a diamond-trader from Gujarat, bought and kept it in a glass cabin at the Dharmananda Diamond Company’s reception. The said suit was included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive suit ever bought at an auction. The money is supposed to be used for the government’s “Clean Ganga Mission.”
6 Choice Of Words
Narendra Modi is often promoted by his followers as one of the most misunderstood world leaders. It’s said that even though his intentions are honest, his choice of words is not apt all the time. There have been many occasions when he made remarks that caused controversies. After becoming the prime minister, he said that people used to be ashamed of being born in India. But, with Modi becoming the prime minister, the perception changed. Modi made a controversial comment about female feticide in 2014. He said that female feticide would leave boys unmarried, as there would not be enough girls. He made fun of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he said that Singh knew “how to bathe in a bathroom wearing a raincoat.” He was referring to Singh’s clean image, even though there were lots of scams during his tenure. Nevertheless, not many were impressed by this sarcastic comment.
5 2002 Gujarat Riots
This is definitely one of the darkest spots in Narendra Modi’s career. After 59 Hindu pilgrims were burned inside a train near the Godhra railway station in Gujarat, the riots broke out in the state ruled by Modi. The casualties were as high as 2,000. According to the official figures, 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed in the riots. Modi, as the head of the state, was accused of overlooking the violence against Muslims. Government officials and police allegedly helped the mob by giving them lists of properties owned by Muslims so that those can be vandalized. Modi was also accused of instructing the police administration not to take any action against the rioter and allow them to massacre Muslims. When Modi was cleared of all the allegations by the Special Investigation Team in 2012, there was disbelief among the Muslim community. In the following year, it was alleged that SIT did not do its job well and suppressed evidence.
4 Modi’s “Puppy” Comment
Narendra Modi has refused to talk about the 2002 Gujarat riots that continue to be a black spot in his otherwise successful political career. When he finally decided to address the issue in 2013, his comments caused outrage. Many expected Modi to apologize for the fact that his administration failed to stop the violence against Muslims in his state when he was the chief minister. Around 2,000 Muslims were massacred in the riots. Modi, nevertheless, had a different kind of a reply when Reuters asked him if he regretted the violence. He said it would natural to be sad as a human being whenever such things happened. Modi said it was as painful as running over a puppy. Many found his comparison between the Muslims killed in the riots and a puppy run over by a car as outrageous. While Modi insisted that his comment was misinterpreted by the media, critics believed it was his way of standing by the Hindu nationalists who were behind the massacre.
3 Banknote Demonetization
The Government of India banned banknotes with the denominations of INR500 and INR1,000. The Modi-led government claimed that it would heavily crack down the “black money.” This is the money that people possess without informing the authorities about it, thus not paying the income tax for the same. The term “black money” also refers to the money that runs in the black market. It is also believed to be used at large for funding terrorism around the world. No matter how noble the idea sounded, the execution became extremely messy. The new banknotes were not immediately available. While people were forced to hand over old banknotes, they were not given enough new notes in return. The withdrawal limit was kept so low that it disrupted the entire financial market. Many economists warned that this would badly affect the Indian economy. At the end of the process, the Reserve Bank of India declared that it had received 99 percent of old banknotes. This means that the government failed to curb the so-called “black money” in the market.
2 Goods And Services Tax
Narendra Modi’s government introduced Goods and Services Tax, popularly known as GST, in July of 2017. It was promoted with the tagline “One India One Tax.” The new tax system is supposed to help Indian business owners avoid paying taxes to various authorities. They are supposed to pay tax only once for their products. In a vastly unregulated market, the government’s plans made products far more expensive. But, there is not enough infrastructure to support the plan. There is a lot of misunderstanding about the new taxation. Not many people are clearly aware of its know-hows. There is not enough training available for people to get skilled about the new system. Smaller business owners are apparently the ones who are suffering the most due to the new system. Many of those who voted Modi for economic development believe that things are now getting out of hand. The policies masterminded by the Modi administration often tend to be too complicated for the majority of the population.
1 Mob Lynching
The number of mob lynching, also known as “beef lynching,” has reportedly grown in India since Modi came to power. There have been multiple occasions when Hindu nationalists beat people to death. The victims were suspected of either carrying or eating beef. Cow is considered a holy animal in Hinduism. However, in other religions like Islam and Christianity, the animal does not hold such a revered status. India, being a secular country, allows its people to consume beef even though the majority of its population consists of Hindus. The mob lynching took place on various occasions. Two Muslim brothers were confronted in a train because they were “beef eaters.” One of them was stabbed to death. Narendra Modi, who is considered to be a role model for Hindu nationalists, maintains an uncanny silence about such incidents. It was only recently that he criticized the so-called “cow protectors” for getting involved in violence. But at the same time, he mentioned that it was necessary to protect the holy animal.