India reacted sharply to The New York Times' editorial criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's choice of Adityanath Yogi as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, and said the paper's wisdom to write such a piece was "questionable".
"All editorials or opinions are subjective. This case is particularly so. The wisdom in doubting the verdicts of genuine democratic exercises, at home or abroad, is questionable," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay.
The NYT in the highly critical editorial, titled 'Modi's Perilous Embrace of Hindu Extremists', said since he was elected in 2014, Modi has played a "cagey game, appeasing his party's hard-line Hindu base while promoting secular goals of development and economic growth".
The move by Prime Minister Modi's party to name "firebrand Hindu cleric" Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh's chief minister is a "shocking rebuke" to religious minorities, the editorial said.
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In the highly critical editorial titled 'Modi's Perilous Embrace of Hindu Extremists', The New York Times said since his election in 2014, Modi has played a "cagey game, appeasing his party's hard-line Hindu base while promoting secular goals of development and economic growth".
There was no immediate comments on the editorial from the Prime Minister's office in New Delhi.
It stated that while there were "worrying signs" that he was willing to humour Hindu extremists, Modi refrained from overtly approving violence against the nation's Muslim minority.
However, Modi "revealed his hand" when emboldened by a landslide victory in recent elections in India s largest state of Uttar Pradesh, his party named a "firebrand Hindu cleric, Yogi Adityanath, as the state's leader", it said.
"The move is a shocking rebuke to religious minorities, and a sign that cold political calculations ahead of national elections in 2019 have led Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party to believe that nothing stands in the way of realising its long-held dream of transforming a secular republic into a Hindu state," the editorial said.
It noted that Adityanath has made a political career of demonising Muslims. The editorial said Uttar Pradesh badly needs development and not ideological showmanship.
It said Adityanath has sounded the right notes by saying that his government will be for everyone and not specifically for any caste or community.
"But the appointment shows that Modi sees no contradiction between economic development and a muscular Hindu nationalism that feeds on stoking anti-Muslim passions," the editorial added.
In a criticism, it said Modi's economic policies have delivered growth, but not jobs at a time when India needs to generate a million new jobs every month to meet employment demand.
"Should Adityanath fail to deliver, there is every fear that he and Modi's party will resort to deadly Muslim-baiting to stay in power, turning Modi's dreamland into a nightmare for India s minorities, and threatening the progress that Modi has promised to all of its citizens," it said.