?Keen to Engage with Modi
As the nine-phase long 16th Lok Sabha election concluded on May 12, a clutch of exit polls claimed that the National Democratic Alliance-led by the BJP will cross the half-way 272 mark, or will inch closer to it, suggesting that Narendra Modi will the next Prime Minister of India. Considered to be a decisive leader who does not fear calling spade a spade, Narendra Modi has emerged as an icon of hope, and has become the main currency with whom everybody would want to do business with.
Given the predictions that Modi will occupy the south block from few days from now, his biggest detractor- America, has given indication of joining the bandwagon of Modi cheer leaders. The statement of the US President Barack Obama that he is looking forward to work closely with the new government in India, saying all countries will cooperate with the new government in New Delhi is a clear gesture of a diplomatic stance. Similarly, China, who until 12th or 13th General elections, refrained from being speculative about the Indian elections through a Chinese daily has expressed hope that the new government likely to be headed by Narendra Modi will be ‘pragmatic’ towards China while adopting a tougher line on the border dispute and Tibet. “Modi likely to be pragmatic towards China,” the ruling Communist Party of China’s flagship English newspaper Global Times said in its lead story on the front page with mixed projections by official Chinese think tanks.
Response from China and America indicates they have acknowledged that Modi is a strong man and can bring about massive changes in all important arenas. And, from china’s response this time, it appears that the largest and most contested neighbour of India, China had done its homework and has mapped the Indian elections since last few months.
Earlier, neither Chinese Communist party leaders nor the researchers opted to comment upon the results of Indian parliamentary elections. The regional parties’ prominence and not so conventional tactic to announce the prime ministerial candidature, the fate of the country and the crucial policies were left undecided. As a result, political observations by the world community were conscious and mere ‘indicative’.
Also in the past, India’s relation with America and its neighbouring countries were not good. But in today’s scenario, the phrase that “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your neighbours” holds true.
That Indian General Elections are watched interestingly by the Chinese counterparts and even studied equally well though discreetly, has given Chinese enough facts for drawing the future canvass carefully, and has helped them form opinion. China is the contested neighbour of India and there should be no surprise as to why China is treating the 16th General elections so special. China, in the history of bilateral relations, always favoured the right wing of the Indian political stream. This time it is inching closer to Modi, as it is looking for a breakthrough in some of the contentious bilateral issues between India and China, including border dispute, trade restrictions and investment opportunities in India and, given Modi’s investor-friendly image, Chinese will not wish things to go out of bounds.
Thus, the change of power at the centre China believes will give them more options to engage with India in a larger ‘Asian’ regional context. And lastly, at a more metamorphic level, China wants to make more China-friends in India by getting in tune with regional parties and sub-national rhetoric of development.
Given such prominent reasons, there is no surprise that Chinese this time chose to get out of their practised silence image to carefully watch the Indian mood of elections.