The British daily’s report on assembly elections in West Bengal is substantially one sided, whereas journalism demands fair play of objectivity

The Guardian, a highly popular British daily in its latest report maintains that the state of West Bengal in India will be heading for the worst if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP wins the on-going assembly elections in the state.

Quoting Malay Tewari, a Bengali social activist, the report states that if the BJP comes to power, it will destroy the legacy of Bengal, adding that ‘the party will destroy it all and Muslims will take the first blow’.

However, the news outlet needs to know that there are many states which are ruled by the BJP. States like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have substantial presence of Muslims and they are enjoying the same benefits their Hindu brothers or sisters are enjoying.

They have availed all benefits doled out under welfare mechanisms. Above all, there has been not a single incident of communal tension in any state where the BJP has ruled. Therefore, it is judgmental to say that Muslim will take the first blow if Modi wins West Bengal elections. This apart, the British daily should avoid doing a story which could influence public sentiments.

Development remains the key agenda of political parties fighting elections in India. The Prime Minister has already begun the work of development in the state, even before the people decide the fate of the parties and who will ultimately rule it. In February 2021, Modi inaugurated several railway projects in the state.

He launched the extension of Metro Railway from Noapara to Dakshineswar, and flagged off the first service on this stretch. This 4.1 km extension has been built at a cost of Rs 464 crore and is fully funded by the central government. Aimed to decongest and improve the urban mobility, the extension is expected to ease out access to the two world-famous Kali temples at Kalighat and Dakshineswar, which are thronged by lakhs of tourists and devotees.

The Prime Minister also inaugurated the third line between Kalaikunda and Jhargram. Modi has also dedicated to the nation the doubling of Azimganj to Khagraghat Road section, which is a part of the Howrah-Bandel-Azimganj section of Eastern Railway.

The instances are a proof how Modi-led BJP’s agenda prioritizes the state’s development and better infrastructure.

Modi, who has always been known for his bent towards modern technology and advancement, also aims to bring a revolution in the state when it comes to infrastructure, amenities and state-of-the-art facilities.

“Better infrastructure, agriculture, industry, tourism - employment opportunities need a lot of reforms. Infrastructure associated with connectivity is the priority of our government. In the last few years, we've focused on highways, waterway, airway and e-way,” says Modi.

The Guardian maintains that the BJP government will be unfair and play communal politics if it rules West Bengal. However, the truth is Modi and his party have always been vocal about secularism and strengthening the culture of not just India, but every state.

At a recent event in West Bengal, Modi said, “BJP will work for a Sonar Bangla that will strengthen the history and culture of Bengal. We will build a Bengal where religion and ability will be respected. We will build a Bengal where everyone is developed," PM Modi said in his address.

Modi, who has been accredited for strengthening India’s presence on the global map in all ways, has always maintained that ‘religion’ is everyone’s personal choice and it has never been the basis of how his government works.

“Everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence. My government will not allow any religious group belonging to the majority or the minority to incite hatred overtly or covertly. Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions,” Modi said in an interview.

There has been a lot of accusations and propaganda that Modi has been always been anti-Muslim. However, there have been no concrete facts to prove this. To start with, Modi has spent his early years among Muslims. He grew up in Vadnagar, an area dominated by the Muslim community. Needless to say, some of his fast and long-lasting friends are Muslims.

As the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he won accolades for phenomenal development in the state during his tenure. Under his leadership, the two districts that developed the most were Kutch and Bharuch, areas with high Muslim population.

Kutch was known as the ‘registan’ (desert). There was no development in the area nor would any tourist visit the place. After 2001, under Modi’s leadership, Kutch’s agriculture flourished, industry came to the district, its coastal strengths were harnessed and it emerged as a vibrant tourist destination.

That apart, the Sarkhej Roza in Ahmedabad witnessed massive development and restoration works under Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque in the state also got a facelift. As PM, Modi also took the then Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe to the mosque.

PM Modi’s revolutionary step of abolishing the ‘triple talaq’ is testimony of his new age thinking and a big step to ensure that generations of Muslim women lead a better life.

PM Modi has been seen offering “chadar” at the dargah of the Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer Sharif for the last six years. This clearly reflects his respect and obeisance to all deities, Sufi saints, cultures and religions.

Modi’s foreign policy also speaks loud about Modi’s secular behaviour and respect for the Muslim community. He has excellent relations with the Muslim world including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Palestine and Afghanistan, with all the nations conferring on him their top civilian honour.

The crown princes of the UAE as well as Saudi Arabia have strong personal friendships with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Guardian report also says that Muslims in West Bengal were scared of the Modi government as it will implement the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act in the state.

However, if it is analysed thoroughly, one will realize that the CAA aims to provide citizenship. It doesn’t envisage doing away with citizenship of fellow Indians. It grants citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who have arrived in India before the end of December 2014.

Considering this and much more, the report by the Guardian certainly lacks fact-check.