• Wednesday, July 24, 2024


How Indian diaspora in Canada see Modi’s election win

India’s ties with Canada have been less than smooth over the past many months, particularly after the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June last year.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi speaks to a crowd at a rally in Toronto, Canada, on April 15, 2024. (Photo by GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

TIES between India and Canada have seen a rough ride in the past many months over the question of Khalistan and Indo-Canadians across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) of the North American nation closely followed the results of the recently held elections in India and what lied in store for prime minister Narendra Modi.

The Indian leader emerged victorious to serve his third consecutive term even though the mandate was reduced as his own Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not get a majority on its own and had to depend on alliance partners to gather the majority figure.

Some among the Indian diaspora in Canada feel the Modi government has given Indian stable economic conditions while there are others who think that his governance has been affected by division and alleged interference, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has said.

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Gurratan Singh, vice president at Toronto’s public relations firm Crestview Strategy and former NDP MPP for Brampton East, told the CBC, “This is actually a really shocking revelation and it really actually demonstrates the extent of misinformation in India.

“It’s interesting to look at the fact [that] we are seeing, in many ways, a rejection of this extreme right-wing politics in India right now.”

He also added that residents of GTA, particularly in Brampton which is home to one of Canada’s largest south Asian diaspora, were “very curious and attentively watching” for the outcome of the Indian elections.

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Singh, brother of Canadian politician and leader of the New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh, said the added strain on the two nation’s ties following the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which led to a massive diplomatic row between New Delhi and Ottawa over the latter’s claim that India was involved in the incident, has resulted in many rejecting the politics of the Modi government.

“We know that Indian and Canadian relationships have been very strained recently … and we know that Prime Minister Modi has said very anti-democratic and frankly shocking statements,” Singh was quoted as saying by CBC.

“That’s why we’re seeing a degree of rejection of an individual prime minister who has used authoritarianism, has used right-wing extremism as his governing tools, and now we’re seeing people reject that mandate,” he added.

In August 2023, a month before Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau publicly accused the Indian government of involvement in Nijjar’s killing, Ottawa halted trade talks with India. The strain also affected other aspects of the two nations’ ties, including diplomacy.

Nijjar was killed outside a gurdwara in Surrey in British Columbia by unidentified assassins in June last year. A few Indian nationals were arrested by the Canadian authorities a few months ago allegedly in connection with the incident.

However, Modi will still be the prime minister despite a reduced majority, and the Canadian Hindu Chamber of Commerce (CHCC) believes it is still a big thing. CHCC is a not-for-profit organisation which is based out of Toronto and represents Canadian Hindus.

Its president Kushagr Dutt Sharma told the outlet that the people of India spoke up by giving Modi his third term and called it a great display of democracy in the south Asian nation, which is the world’s largest democracy with nearly a billion electors.

He also said that foreign domestic investment in India has gone up significantly since Modi became the PM for the first time in 2014.

“I think India is a good place to do business under the current government and they’ve brought a lot of stability over the last 10 years,” Dutt Sharma was quoted as saying.

Santbir Singh, a research worker with the Sikh Research Institute and a PhD student at York University, was of the opinion that the election results are welcome news for many members of the community.

“For the Sikh community here, especially those who are engaged in political activism, Modi’s government has really been a disaster and quite troubling,” he told CBC Toronto Tuesday (4), the day the results came out.

“This setback I think speaks well for democracy and for the rule of law. It’s not as strong as people thought it would be … I think [that] is a good sign, and a good sign for India’s minorities as well.”

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