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Time magazine features Narendra Modi as India’s Divider in Chief on cover page

One of the world’s top magazines, TIME has put Prime Minister Narendra Modi on its cover and asked if India can endure five more years of his government.

Calling him “India’s Divider in chief”, Time magazine’s cover story asked: “Can the World’s Largest Democracy Endure Another Five Years of a Modi Government?”

The cover story, reported by Aatish Taseer, says “the world’s biggest democracy is more divided than ever” — the broad array of topics that find mention in the piece include mob lynchings, the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister in 2017, and the BJP’s recent decision to field Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in Bhopal.

“Under Modi govt, minorities of every stripe – from liberals and lower castes to Muslims and Christians – have come under assault, India is “more divided than ever,” the story by journalist Aatish Taseer reads.

Highlighting the rising populism in democracies like Turkey, Brazil, Britain, the US and India, Taseer writes: “Of the great democracies to fall to populism, India was the first.”

“Under Prime Minister Modi, nation’s most basic norms, such as the character of the Indian state, its founding fathers, the place of minorities and its institutions, from universities to corporate houses to the media, were shown to be severely distrusted,” the article read.

Taseer is a British-born writer-journalist, and the son of Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and late Pakistani politician and businessman Salmaan Taseer.

The article is also critical of the Indian opposition, which it calls a “weak”, “ragtag” coalition; it says the Congress has “little to offer than the dynastic principle” and describes Rahul Gandhi as “an unteachable mediocrity”.

“Modi will never again represent the myriad dreams and aspirations of 2014.

Then he was a messiah, ushering in a future too bright to behold, one part Hindu renaissance, one part South Korea’s economic program.

Now he is merely a politician who has failed to deliver, seeking re-election.

Whatever else might be said about the election, hope is off the menu,” the article reads.

The Indian opposition on Friday pounced on the story in Time’s cover for May 20, 2019. The women’s wing of the Congress, for example, pointed to the opening line — “Of the great democracies to fall to populism, India was the first.” — to attack PM Modi.

In the same issue, TIME published a second story on the prime minister, titled, “Modi Is India’s Best Hope for Economic Reform.”

TIME’s articles on Modi come as India’s Lok Sabha election enters its home stretch, with just two polling phases left before votes are counted on May 23.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been on the cover of TIME before — for example, an interview with the BJP leader headlined a May 2015 cover. (He has also won, more than once, the online readers’ poll for TIME Person of the Year.)

“Your truth is for all to see,” the All India Mahila Congress tweeted to Modi.

When the 2015 edition was published, Narendra Modi had been prime minister for a year; he assumed office on May 26, 2014, after crushing the UPA in a Lok Sabha election that saw the BJP win a parliamentary majority on its own.

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