There have been mixed reactions among expatriate Indians living in the Gulf countries following the landslide victory of the BJP, led by Narendra Modi, in the Indian general elections. While some expressed hope and enthusiasm, for others, there was disappointment.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Kerala Muslim Cultural Committee (KMCC), which had anticipated a Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) victory in Kerala was partly relieved by the election outcome in the state, where the BJP could not open its account despite its huge success across the country.
KMCC is a prominent cultural organisation of Indian expatriates in the Gulf region.
“We celebrated the success of our leaders and the UDF in Kerala. But, we are upset about what happened at the centre,” P.K. Anwar Naha, president of Dubai KMCC, said.
Around 500 of its members poured at its office in Dubai Friday to catch the election results.
Naha said he was anxious about the Modi government’s policy for the Arab region.
“One main concern is about India having closer relations with Israel which would not be good for its relations with Arab countries. Also, we can mostly expect a new face as the minister of overseas Indian affairs. We will have to wait and see what more the new minister can do for the welfare of the Indian expatriates, especially the labour class,” the Khaleej Times quoted Naha as saying Saturday.
K.V. Shamsudheen, chairman of Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, said: “We NRIs kept on presenting to the UPA government our grievances but we never got any result.”
Shamsudheen, a renowned social worker in the UAE, expressed confidence in the new government and said Modi would make visible changes immediately in commodity price control, poverty alleviation, infrastructure development, foreign investment, as well as control of terrorism and corruption.
Other expatriate leaders voiced their high hopes of development from the Modi-led government like inclusive growth, boosting economic growth and giving the Indian diaspora their due.
According to Ram Buxani, president of the India Club Dubai, the clear government mandate after three decades would help the new government take decisions independently.
“During the past few years, the political parties were involved in mudslinging and accusing each other for promoting communal division or dynastic politics. I hope the new government will concentrate on development of India,” The Gulf Today quoted Buxani, who is also president of Cosmos ITL Group, as saying Saturday.
Buxani lauded Modi for his image of welcoming NRIs and attracting investment in Gujarat.
He is of the view, that 25 million strong NRIs need representation in the law-making process.
“There should be NRI representatives from the Middle East, the Far East, the US, the UK, and Africa,” added Buxani.
B.R. Shetty, chairman of UAE Exchange and CEO of NMC Healthcare, said that a strong government at the centre was certainly the need of the hour and the NDA was the perfect choice of the people.
Shetty expected the new government to draw “a focused action plan” to address the issue of stalled growth across various sectors of the Indian economy, The Gulf Today report said.
“The poll results have already started showing their impact on stock markets, which has spiked significantly. The NDA government will spike up the confidence of investors and help enhanced FDI flow,” Shetty added.
A number of Indian organisations held meetings in Saudi Arabia’s Capital Riyadh to discuss the scenario emerging after the results came in favour of the right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP, Arab News reported Saturday.
The Indian expatriate community there seemed shocked and disappointed by the Modi’s election victory story as they termed their meeting as a “condolence meeting on the sad demise of secularism in India”.
“This victory, the first parliamentary majority by a single party in 30 years, will not simply trounce the currently ruling Congress party or other secular forces but it will virtually allow the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Hindu nationalist outfit, to enjoy power and saffronise government running institutions like the Indian Council of Historical Research to rewrite history as they did during their previous term in power under Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” Arab News quoted Abdul Ahad Siddiqui, president of the Riyadh-based Indian National Forum, as saying.
Obaidur Rahman, chairman of the Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, chapter of the Bihar Foundation, said: “We have to adopt ‘a wait and watch’ policy after this divisive force’s coming to power.”
Rahman said that no one can deprive Indian Muslims of their rights in a democratic society like India.
Mohammad Ahmad Badshah, president of the Riyadh chapter of Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA), said that the ” unusual government” is tasked with winning the confidence of the minority community.
“This can only happen with love and understanding on both sides,” he added.
Indian minority community in Qatar feared discrimination at the hands of the new government.
Martin Xavier, managing director of Continental Cooling Company, said minorities fear that a BJP-led government may take decisions against them because they will not need approval from any other party because of their majority.
“There is a fear that the government will initially not do anything against minorities, but later may resort to something,” The Peninsula quoted Xavier as saying.
Mohamed Khaled, an Indian expatriate working as a recruitment coordinator in a multinational firm in Qatar, expressed his concerns on Gujarat-like incidents to be repeated under the majority BJP government.
“Muslims have so far not been able to digest this victory. Full majority to BJP may make the party go against minorities. Had it not got full majority there would have been some checks and balances on BJP in policymaking,” The Peninsula quoted Mohamed Habibun Nabee, president of the Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association, as saying.
“However, we should respect the outcome of the election. The good thing is that Narendra Modi, in his speech, has said that he would take all Indians together,” he said.