Modi-run government would be a 'bullying' one, says Salman Rushdie
Indian-born author Salman Rushdie has expressed concern that under Narendra Modi, India will have “a fairly bullying government” and attacks on the freedom of expression could worsen if the BJP comes to power.
“I am pretty concerned about a Modi-run government. The indications that it would be a fairly bullying government are already there. We have already seen journalists and writers being bullied and (the BJP) has not taken power yet,” Rushdie said during a session on the importance of freedom of expression at the 10th annual PEN World Voices Festival here.
“You already see even more worryingly a kind of self-censorship setting in, people worry that they are going to be bullied and therefore try not to do anything that will attract the wrath of the ‘Modistas’,” he said.
Rushdie said there has never been a politician “quite like Narendra Modi in India” and “we have to see whether the experience of office serves to moderate him”. “If freedom of expression is under attack, if religious freedom is threatened and if substantial parts of society live in physical fear for their safety, then such a society cannot be said to be a true democracy.”
In contemporary India, all these problems exist and they are getting worse. The attack on literary, scholarly and artistic freedom have gathered force” ever since his book the Satanic Verses was banned, he said.
Last month, Rushdie was among a group of Indian-origin writers, artists and lawyers who had signed an open letter “worrying about Modi’s rise to power”.