India elections: Papers pore over Modi win

BJP leader Narendra Modi greets his supporters in Gujarat. Photo: 16 May 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Modi's campaign and India's election process reap praise, but concerns about his past are also raised

Daily newspapers across South Asia are generally impressed with the resounding election victory of Narendra Modi and his BJP party, admiring his campaign and India's ability to carry out a successful mass demonstration of democracy.

Some Pakistani and Western commentators express unease about Mr Modi's reputation as a Hindu nationalist.

But there is also a feeling that a fresh start is needed to build a relationship with the new leader.

South Asia

A few of Pakistan's Urdu-language dailies see the outcome as a victory for extremism. "Hindu extremism won in India," reads a headline in Karachi's Jasarat, while the Nawa-i-Waqt daily says that "extremist BJP" got a heavy mandate while "Congress was sent packing".

Another Karachi based-paper, the leading liberal daily Dawn, says: "There is much to be worried about when it comes to a politician with an explicitly communal background elected on an agenda for economic empowerment and regeneration." But the paper says Pakistan would not rule out a working relationship with the new government, given that the stakes are high.

"From a Pakistani perspective, where the transition to democracy continues, the Indian election could not be more crucial. Much hope is pinned on the reality that a centre-right government in Pakistan with genuine legitimacy and political support in the heartland can do business with a right-wing government in India," Dawn says.

A more conservative paper, The Nation, says an economically stable India might be good for Pakistan, and expects that the new prime minister will be motivated to deliver on his promises.

"A man as obsessed with his image and legacy as Modi will be careful not to tarnish how the world sees him," the paper reasons. It goes on to admire Mr Modi's campaign, calling it "one of the most ingenious election crusades in history".

The Express Tribune is also impressed, saying that "Pakistan has a lot to learn from India, and from its execution of this paramount exercise of democracy, seamlessly and without blame and allegations. Hopefully, this is one area where it will choose to emulate its neighbour."

In Sri Lanka, the Daily News says that the election shows "the Indian people's desire for a leadership that lives by the credo of CAN-DO".

And in Bangladesh, the Daily Star says it looks forward to a "speedy resolution" of some of the unresolved issues between the two countries, such as water sharing.


Some commentators in China pin their hopes on what they see as Mr Modi's adaptability. Jack Linchuan Qiu in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post says that despite Mr Modi's Hindu nationalist election rhetoric, "Chinese diplomats expect him and his Bharatiya Janata Party - known for its tough stance on China - to change course".

Analyst Jiang Jingkui, in Jinghua Shibao (Beijing Times) speaks positively of Mr Modi, saying he "has a friendly attitude towards China" and that he is "good at adopting China's methods and ways".

Another commentator in the same paper, Ling Shuo, says Modi has given hope to voters all over the country by his proven performance in his own state as chief minister. "When people compare their desires with reality, they realize that Gujarat is a microcosm of those wishes" coming true.

UK and USA

Mr Modi's win also raises some hopes - mainly for India's economy - in the UK press. Amol Rajan in The Independent writes that "Modi might be a fine tonic for India, loosening the shackles of corruption, boosting growth from a meagre 5%, emancipating millions of workers - rural ones especially - from poverty, and stalling the sexually transmitted democracy of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty".

But Amol Rajan also has reservations about Mr Modi being able to heal divisions in the country. "Any man who refuses to answer questions about his involvement in the Gujarat massacre of 2002, where he was chief minister, and who says he thinks of Muslim suffering much as he'd think of a puppy run over by a car, is betraying the legacy of India's founding fathers," he writes.

The Guardian's Jayathi Ghosh also expresses unease, saying that "Corporate India and Hindu majoritarianism have won this particular round. But can they also reshape Indian politics, economy and society in this unpleasant image?"

In an editorial headlined: "Will Narendra Modi become India's Putin?", the Washington Post wonders if Mr Modi will be a leader "whose economic ambitions are derailed by nationalism and authoritarian temptations". The US administration, the paper says, has "shunned" the Gujarat leader because of his behaviour during the anti-Muslim riots, and will have some catching up to do if it wants a meaningful partnership with India in the Modi era.

The New York Times agrees, saying in its editorial that the two countries will have to work hard to overcome the "strain" built up by a "misguided" US-India civilian nuclear deal which failed to deliver on promises.

"How he moves forward will matter to Indians clamouring for jobs and development, but also to others, including the United States, which sees India as a vital economic and security partner in Asia". It says that Mr Modi now has a chance to shape the way India engages with the world. "

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.