New York: Time magazine, which published a cover story before the Indian election calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi the ‘Divider in Chief’, has in a quick about-face run report with a headline, ‘Modi Has United India Like No Prime Minister in Decades’.
The article with that headline published on its website Tuesday, asked “How has this supposedly divisive figure not only managed to keep power, but increase his levels of support?” and answered: “A key factor is that Modi has managed to transcend India’s greatest fault line: the class divide’’.
The writer, Manoj Ladwa, credited Modi’s emergence as a unifier to his origins in a backward caste – a factor missed or deliberately omitted by Western media obsessed with what they call upper caste domination.
“Narendra Modi was born into one of India’s most disadvantaged social groups,’’ he explained. “In reaching the very top, he personifies the aspirational working classes and can self-identify with his country’s poorest citizens in a way that the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, who have led India for most of the 72 years since independence, simply cannot.”
“Yet despite the strong and often unfair criticisms levelled at Modi’s policies both throughout his first term and this marathon election, no Prime Minister has united the Indian electorate as much in close to five decades,” he said referring to Indira Gandhi’s massive 1971 victory.
The pre-election cover story by Aatish Taseer was turned into campaign fodder in India and acclaimed by Modi’s critics as an indictment of him as a “divider” by a global media powerhouse. In reality, Time is an ailing magazine that has changed hands twice in a year – bought in March last year by Meredith, the publisher of magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, and All Recipes, it was sold in again in September to tech entrepreneur Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce, and his wife.
In fact Time’s flagship US edition did not bother to run the Modi story as cover, and instead gave the spot to Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination for President.