Now they’re talking

The end of the EU's diplomatic boycott of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi comes as a predictable — and belated — course correction. While serious questions persist about Modi's role in the communal violence that raged under his watch in Gujarat 2002, the apparent EU consensus on treating him as a pariah was visibly fraying. In 2011, the Danish ambassador to India met Modi and in October 2012, the government of British Prime Minister David Cameron established diplomatic contact with him at the highest level. Given the cracks in the political code of silence and the press of economic imperatives to resume contact, apart from the progressive talking up of a national role for Modi ahead of the general elections in 2014, it is surprising the boycott lasted this long.

The reasons being projected now for the EU getting back on talking terms with the Gujarat chief minister — the EU's ostensible trust in and respect for democratic and judicial processes in India — should have persuaded it against the churlish politics of boycott in the first place. As a duly elected chief minister, Modi is a constitutional functionary of the country. To be sure, there are serious allegations regarding his role in 2002. But for that, he faces political questions and demands for accountability at home. Cases have been filed to bring to book those involved in the crimes of 2002, and the judicial process, diligently monitored by the apex court, has delivered heartening results — including the conviction by a special court last August of Maya Kodnani, a former BJP legislator and minister in the Modi government, for the killings of Muslims at Naroda Patiya. In his pursuit of a larger national role, Modi still has arduous battles to fight to gain wider acceptability. But they are domestic battles, in which neither the EU, nor for that matter the US, has a role. In fact, their shunning of Modi could be said to amount to interference in India's internal affairs.

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