Thursday, April 26, 2012

Time out for Modi and cheers for Didi

By Mail Today Bureau in Gandhinagar

WHEN they nominated him, his fans yelled victory.
As Time magazine unveiled its list of 100 most influential people of
the globe on Wednesday, his party workers feigned ignorance about it.
After all the hoopla, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi failed to
make it to the coveted list this year.
What may also burn his heart further is the fact that his counterpart
from West Bengal, the mercurial Mamata Banerjee has found herself a
place in the list leaving him out in the cold.
Mamata is ranked 92nd while the founder and executive director of Naz
Foundation, Anjali Gopalan, is way ahead of her.
Modi’s nomination in the list had sparked off intense reaction in the
cyber world and while he had secured a healthy third position with
256792 “ yes” votes online, he had also secured 266684 “ no” votes
making him one of the most disliked people.
While opposition Congress had gone to the extent of alleging that Modi
was manipulating the Time poll to boost his image, even the magazine
took notice of the controversy.
“ Not surprisingly, Modi’s Hindu nationalist backers seemed to have
rushed to the poll, helping him soar ahead of well- known US
personalities like President Obama and Lady Gaga. But so too did his
In addition to quite a few “ Yes” votes, Modi amassed the most “ No”
votes of anyone featured on the poll — more than 260,000,” read an
article by Ishaan Tharoor published in Time on April 10.
“ Of course, given how heated any discussion of Modi becomes in India,
the poll itself turned into something of a hot potato.
Eight months ahead of local elections in Gujarat, a politico from the
Congress party ( in opposition in Gujarat, but in power in New Delhi,
where Modi’s BJP is its chief opponent) labelled him an “ Internet
manipulator,” using Time’s poll to boost his own standing. Seeing
Modi’s rise up the poll, opponents banded together, in some cases
sending mass emails urging Indians to “ save the future” of their
country by voting “ No” against Modi,” it read further.
Time said Mamata spent years struggling on the margins but ultimately
she proved to be the consummate politician.
Though much of Indian society remains hidebound in patriarchy and
tradition, strong women still prevail in the nation’s political life.
Mamata rose to the fore last year when she led a movement and ending
three and a half decades of communist rule in West Bengal.
Called Didi by her supporters, Mamata is labelled by her critics as a
mercurial oddball.