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2024 Lok Sabha Elections
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‘Violent Escalation’: Western Media Coverage of Indian Election Hits a New Low

© AFP 2023 PUNIT PARANJPEUS Vice President Joe Biden addresses a gathering of Indian businessmen at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in Mumbai on July 24, 2013.
US Vice President Joe Biden addresses a gathering of Indian businessmen at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in Mumbai on July 24, 2013. - Sputnik India, 1920, 19.05.2024
Indian External Affairs Minister (EAM) has said that western media outlets viewed themselves as “political actors” in Indian election. He has said that western influence attempts in Indian election were more intense than before.
Facing criticism in India for its attempts to “influence” the ongoing Lok Sabha election through negative coverage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), western media has now resorted to discredit the Indian electoral process.
In its latest edition, London-headquartered publication The Economist has said in one of its articles that the Indian opposition could question the “legitimacy” of the election results on 4 June if Modi wins by a “large majority”.
“But if the BJP wins a smaller majority or fails to win one at all, it may become even more aggressive. In the worst case, that risks a violent escalation in the streets,” stated the piece, which accuses the Election Commission of India (ECI) of being biased in favour of the BJP.
In another piece, the Economist raked up the statement of Indian opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal, also the Delhi state chief minister, who has been awarded a 22-day interim bail by Supreme Court in a corruption case to canvass for the opposition INDIA coalition.
In an article titled ‘Who will Succeed Modi?’, The Economist claimed that the BJP faced a “succession problem” and all those viewed as his successors had “friction backstage”.

Discrediting India’s Election Process a New Low for ‘Western Agents’

Prashant Pandey, a co-author of book 'BBC: True Lies', told Sputnik India that the western media outlets were "trying to pre-emptively discredit the election results as they have failed to discredit their opponent, Prime Minister Modi, through negative coverage".

"They realise that Modi is in a formidable position in terms of his popularity among the voters," Pandey underlined.

He stressed that one should have no doubt that western media were acting as "agents" of western governments, who were wary of targeting Modi directly due to geopolitical considerations.

"The discrediting of the election process without any basis is a new tactic being deployed by western media. They have been whipping fears over the state of minorities in the country since 2014," Pandey highlighted.

He said that the West had "considerable stakes" in Indian elections.
"It is not that the West hasn't interfered or tried to influence previous Indian elections. But, they are particularly virulent this time around," the author said.
He explained that the West wanted a "strong India" to counter China in the "Asian theatre", yet at the same time it was intimidated by a strong Indian leader with an independent foreign policy, qualities which Modi has come to encapsulate.
"The West has been caught in a quandary. They can't directly oppose the Modi government, or target the Indian leadership, for geopolitical reasons. But, what we are seeing is that western agents are doing the bidding of these governments by ramping up criticism of Prime Minister Modi," remarked Pandey.

Indian Opposition and Western Media Complementing Each Other

Pandey also noted that articles published in The Economist “closely resonated with views of the opposition”.
Pandey noted that the western media was trying to incite differences in the BJP by raking up the question of Modi's successor, just like Kejriwal had done in his first campaign speech on 11 May.
In his first political speech on 11 May, Kejriwal stated that Modi would "retire" the next year as he would turn 75 years, noting that several other BJP politicians had hung their boots on turning 75. In the same speech, Kejriwal further claimed that Modi would hand over the reins of the party to Amit Shah, the incumbent home minister.
Further, Kejriwal predicted that Modi would end the political career of Yogi Adityanath, a BJP politician and the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, within two months of winning the election. Spelling out the reason for his statement, Kejriwal said that Modi wanted "one nation, one leader" and wanted to do away with Adityanath in the process.
"However, they are not winning the election on 4 June. INDIA alliance is winning," Kejriwal said in the same speech.

Pandey called out the contradiction in Kejriwal's statements.

"You can't have both of the possibilities. According to him, Modi would replace himself with Shah after winning the election. But, he also says that the BJP-led alliance wouldn't win the election," the analyst said.

Regardless, both Shah and Adityanath have ridiculed Kejriwal's succession theories, with the Uttar Pradesh chief minister even stating that Kejriwal had "lost his mind".
"The main problem with the Indian opposition is that it has refused to accept about being beaten fair and square by a political adversary which has gained electoral ground over a period of four to five decades," explained Pandey.
He described it as unfortunate that Indian opposition and western media were in cahoots just to weaken Modi.
Indian Foreign Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar delivers a speech at commemorative lecture of Nikkei Forum Friday, March 8, 2024, in Tokyo. - Sputnik India, 1920, 07.05.2024
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