Can Narendra Modi be PM , asks Time magazine

Washington : Controversial Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi features on the cover of Time magazine which wonders if he can ever become the prime minister despite his development work in his home state.

“Modi means business but can he lead India,” asks the cover story in the Asia edition of the March 26 issue of the US magazine describing him as a “controversial, ambitious and shrewd politician”.

“Many Indians recoil at any mention of a man whose name is indelibly linked to Gujarat’s brutality of 2002; choosing him as India’s leader would seem a rejection of the country’s tradition of political secularism and a sure path to increased tension with Muslim Pakistan, where he is reviled,” it said.

“But when others think of someone who can bring India out of the mire of chronic corruption and inefficiency — of a firm, no-nonsense leader who will set the nation on a course of development that might finally put it on par with China — they think of Modi,” Time said.

But the US magazine suggests that Modi may pose a tough challenge to Congress’s young scion Rahul Gandhi in India’s next parliamentary elections in the wake of the party’s poor performance in the recent Uttar Pradesh state elections.

“With two years left before the next national election in 2014, Congress hopes its young scion, Sonia’s son Rahul, will refresh the party, but a resounding loss in a recent state election makes him look vulnerable,” Time said.

“Modi, 61, is perhaps the only contender with the track record and name recognition to challenge Rahul Gandhi,” said the cover story.

“Narendra Modi sits silently on stage in a posture of serene repose. Today, he is wearing the white of a penitent,” said an article titled “Boy from the backyard” describing his series of day-long Sadbhavana fasts to reach out to the people of the state.

“It’s Modi in makeover mode: an act of self-purification, humility and bridge building in a state that is still traumatised by the Hindu-led anti-Muslim massacres of 10 years ago and the flawed investigations in their wake,” Time said.

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