A day after the BJP and its allies faced a resounding defeat in the Bihar elections, Prime Minister Modi finds himself unwelcome in the UK. He is scheduled to land there on November 12.
On Sunday evening, Indians in Britain projected the words “Modi not welcome” on the Houses of Parliament building to lodge their protest against Modi’s upcoming visit. The protest against Modi’s UK visit is being led by the Awaaz Network which has been mobilising people to join them in a protest planned for the day Modi will speak at the British Parliament.
The projection on the Houses of Parliament showed Modi wielding a sword in front of an Om sign which appears to be transforming into a swastika, reminiscent of the Nazi symbol.
A spokesperson for the Awaaz Network said “Modi wants to (ostensibly)sell the idea of a ‘Digital India’ and ‘a clean India’ but the reality is the unleashing of a violent authoritarian agenda that seeks to undermine India’s democratic and secular fabric.”
Gujarat 2002 comes back to haunt PM
When the projection was put out, the Awaaz Network also put tweets with the photograph, decrying his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
One tweet read: “Let us not turn a blind eye to Modi’s actions in Gujarat 2002. He has to answer the riot victims.”
The second tweet read: “#ModiNotWelcome is a protest to remind the world of Modi’s real face… including Godhra 2002. UK protests!”
Yet another tweet read, “#ModiNotWelcome in UK, he has the blood of innocents on his hands!”
Another one read, “#ModiNotWelcome in UK, he has overseen the pre planned killings of innocents in Gujarat 2002.”
The Awaaz Network has the support of other organisations such as the South Asia solidarity Group, Sikh Federation UK, Southall, Black Sisters, Dalit Solidarity Network UK, Indian Muslim Federation, Indian Workers Association as well as the Muslim Parliament and Voice of Dalit International.
Other Indians wanted to give him a ‘Rockstar’ welcome, which seems mistimed now
Another section of the Indian diaspora seems unaware of these feelings though. While in London on his 3 days visit, Modi will address a crowd of around 60,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium. It was slated to be a ‘rockstar welcome’ but after the big election defeat in Bihar, the country’s third most populous state, it looks ill-timed. The invitation-only event, which coincides with the festival of Diwali, will attract three times as many admirers as his sell-out gig at New York’s Madison Square Garden last year.
the euphoria seems out of tune with current affairs. For one, the rapturous reception called “Two Great Nations. One Glorious Future” glosses over poor relations between the United Kingdom and India. Traditionally strong financial ties between the countries look strained. London-listed companies like Vodafone and Cairn are still struggling to resolve retrospective tax disputes worth billions of dollars. Meanwhile Britain’s biggest steelmaker, owned by Tata Steel, just axed 1,200 jobs.
Modi’s wooing of Indians living abroad has been with an underlying mission. India’s diaspora has savings of $44 billion, just behind the overseas populations of Mexico and China, according to the World Bank, which the Modi government wants invested in India.
But with many of his government’s bills stalled in Parliament and the sentiment of Share market also down after Bihar, wonder if the NRI wants to put his money where his heart may still be?