British newspapers say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s UK visit this week will severely impacted by the electoral drubbing his party, the BJP, received in Bihar over the weekend.
Modi is scheduled to start his first visit to Britain on Thursday. His decade-long diplomatic boycott by the UK ended last year after he came India’s new prime minister. The ban on his entry into UK was imposed over the 2002 Gujarat riots, which had killed more than 1000 Muslims during his time as the state’s chief minister.
He’s also visiting the UK amid concerns over growing religious intolerance in India.
British dailies say Mr Modi will carry the baggage of these developments to London.
Citing examples of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan and the Reserve Bank governor Raghuram Rajan who criticised the environment of intolerance in India, The Financial Times said Modi was a “charismatic international statesman” but emphasises that his next foreign visit “will for the first time be overshadowed by deepening troubles at home.
“Such people are heard in New York and London as well as Mumbai, which could make Mr Modi’s hitherto triumphant foreign trips less comfortable in the future.”
The Independent said Modi had suffered an “embarrassing setback” ahead of his “high-profile visit”.
“The result means that as he prepares for an enthusiastic welcome in Britain this week… Mr Modi will be smarting from the defeat on home soil, which comes as his administration also faces mounting accusations of fomenting intolerance,” the paper says.
According to The Telegraph, Modi will arrive in the UK with his “standing weakened after his party was comfortably defeated” in the Bihar elections, writes The Telegraph.
The Guardian carried a commentary piece, which described the prime minister “the divisive manipulator who charmed the world”.
“While Modi makes a triumphant visit to the UK after more than a year as India’s prime minister… One can only hope that the barefaced viciousness of Hindu supremacists will jolt the old elites out of their shattered dogmas and pieties while politicising a cheated young generation,” it said.
However, The Economist took a sarcastic dig at Modi by writing that that the visit will bring Modi “relief” and “distraction from his stinging defeat” in Bihar.