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British media gives Modi the cold shoulder

Last updated on: August 18, 2003 19:16 IST

Narendra Modi has come in for a roasting in one of Britain's leading daily newspapers, which highlights comparisons between the Gujarat chief minister and war criminals of the 20th century.

The Guardian's India correspondent Luke Harding has profiled Modi as 'the most controversial figure in modern Indian politics -- likened by his many enemies to Adolf Hitler, Slobodan Milosevic and Pol Pot'.

Modi was 'catapulted to infamy last year after presiding over India's worst communal rioting for a decade', Harding adds.

"The riots left 100,000 people homeless, severely damaged India's credentials as a secular democracy and were described  -- correctly -- as genocide," he said.

Harding's 'burra sahib' analysis carries additional weight back home in Britain because his newspaper is viewed as the media outlet most closely aligned to the ruling Labour Party.

Describing Modi as an MA graduate 'who can speak fluent English but who prefers to declaim in Gujarati or Hindi', Harding concludes, "His decision to fly to Britain suggests he is preparing to launch himself on the national stage, with some pundits tipping him as a future Indian prime minister."

"If he ever makes it, then India's tradition of secular democracy, which has been under threat for some time, will have been replaced by something much darker," he said.

Shyam Bhatia in London