In a magazine article published a week before counting, Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party president, quoted an anonymous warning to himself and his followers written by Jawaharlal Nehru a decade before becoming India's first prime minister: "Is it not possible that Jawaharlal might fancy himself as Caesar? Therein lies danger for Jawaharlal and for India. We want no Caesars." They are words that India's new prime minister will do well to heed as he keeps his tryst with destiny.
Dr James Chiriyankandath
Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London
• To claim, as Jayati Ghosh does (A bullying sort of win, 17 May), that Modi's election victory is largely due to "a massively funded and aggressive media campaign" is not only disingenuous; it also places a big question mark on the intelligence and maturity of Indian voters – the same voters who rejected the BJP's massively funded "India shining" media campaign in 2004, and voted for the Congress. If Mr Modi, as Professor Ghosh claims, is guilty of instigating pogroms against Muslims in 2002, why did Muslims choose to support his party? In Uttar Pradesh, his party won all the 21 seats where the Muslim population is more than 10%; in Rajasthan, his party scored 30% of Muslim votes; in Delhi's Chandni Chowk constituency, where Muslims constitute a majority, his party defeated a senior Congress leader.
Modi's victory is a revolt against India's democratic capitalism, which failed to create sustainable growth beyond 5%. India, however, needs at least 10% growth per year for its growing working population, which only Modi's authoritarian capitalism can offer. This is the real cause of Congress's crushing defeat.
Randhir Singh Bains
Gants Hill, Essex
• Jayati Ghosh suggests that the electorate was somehow misled into voting Narendra Modi to power. In fact, many voters had felt betrayed by the ruling Congress party. The real surprise of the election was not Modi, who won, but his rival, Rahul Gandhi, who lost. That a mild-mannered charismatic leader with a deep concern for the poor can be rejected so totally by the poor of India is unbelievable, until we realise that, for many, his leadership symbolised the feudal and undemocratic way state affairs were run by the Gandhi family and its friends.
London School of Economics
• The world's largest democracy has just concluded a massive election. A population of 1.2 billion with a huge diversity of faiths, languages, ideologies and cultures successfully concluded this amazing feat. There was hardly any violence or vote-rigging and some places recorded a turnout of over 80%. India is a role model to the rest of the world where there is no freedom or democracy. A word of praise from the Guardian would not be out of place. What we had instead was an outpouring of hatred for India and the Hindu majority of the country by Pankaj Mishra (The new face of India, Review, 17 May).
Persecuted Jewish people, Zoroastrians, Baha'is and Tibetan Buddhists have found a safe home in India. Beginning with nothing in 1947 after 200 years of colonial rule, India has slowly but surely forged together a nation which has become a world economic power. The people of India have voted for change, and no amount of crocodile tears from India's detractors is going to change that. Indeed world leaders have rushed to congratulate the new leadership. It is a shame that the Guardian has failed to acknowledge the democracy of India and allowed an article to be published which did not have an iota of balance.
• It is a pity that neither your editorial nor your report (Modi begins to put government together, 19 May) sought to inform your readers that, while the BJP and its allies won handsomely, they managed only two out of 42 seats in West Bengal, two out of 17 in Telengana, two out of 39 in Tamil Nadu, one out of 21 in Odisha and none of the 20 seats available in Kerala. This makes it a total of seven out of 139 seats in the south and east of the country. Additionally, the BJP and allies did not win any seats in Manipur and Tripura. The real challenge for Mr Modi and the BJP could be to ensure that they do not alienate the southern and eastern states, especially as these states have considerable powers in the federal republic.
• A party has secured a clear majority on the back of a 31% of the share of vote. The non-Congress Janata Dal secured more seats in 1977 amid voter revulsion against Indira Gandhi's autocratic rule. Congress won back a parliamentary majority under Rajiv Gandhi in 1984. Then, as now, majorities in parliament have been secured on the back of small pluralities of votes when campaigns have focused on a single issue. Governments thus elected found it difficult to manage the tension of intra-party coalition of interests.
Modi campaigned on a platform of good governance and economic development. Yet almost a third of his party members in parliament, keeping with the tradition established long ago by Indira Gandhi, have long-standing criminal charges pending against them, admittedly not all for corruption but for murder and intimidation. Nothing new there. The foot soldiers from the Hindu Taliban brigade who maintained discipline by not derailing the Modi rhetoric of toilets (read jobs) not temples on the campaign trail will now demand temples if not pogroms. Corporate donors will demand a hefty reward, having financed his campaign. This is Indian politics as usual.
• I was shocked to read your cringing editorial about Narendra Modi, a bigoted, rightwing leader who makes Nigel Farage look statesmanlike and Nick Griffin almost cuddly. Please do not fawn on Modi unless you're prepared to do the same for the latter two.
Birkbeck, University of London
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