|B. F. Patel hosted a party in Niagara Falls for Indian prime minister candidate, Narendra Modi.
Approximately 50 persons attended a fundraiser Sunday at the Niagara Club in Niagara Falls, to aid the political ambitions of Narendra Modi, the chief minister (governor) of the Indian State of Gujarat, who, by most accounts, will be the next prime minister of India.
The event was held by B. F. Patel, owner of the historic Niagara Club across the street from the Niagara Falls State Park, the Econo Lodge on Rainbow Blvd., and other properties in this city.
The audience was comprised of American and Canadian citizens of Indian origin from ages 26 to 93.
While Modi's attitudes are not as extreme as those of contemporary Muslim leaders toward their own Islam, Modi is seen as a beacon to many Hindus in India and around the world, and a polarizing figure to some, especially non-Hindus or Muslims, because he is regarded as staunchly Hindu in a nation of 80 percent Hindu, and 13 percent Muslim adherents.
Modi came to the international spotlight during the 2002 riots in Gujarat, which were precipitated by the burning of a train by Muslim terrorists that killed 58 Hindus.
After quelling the subsequent riots, Modi was accused of being the precipitator of a violent campaign to seek retribution against Muslims. Almost 800 Muslims and 250 Hindus were killed during riots that emerged in the Muslim terrorists' wake.
Modi was cleared of wrongdoing by a Special Investigation team appointed by the Supreme Court of India and, with the perspective of time it appears history may record that, just the opposite of inciting riots, had it not been for Modi's actions, the death toll would have been higher. Some believe he was responsible for preventing the riots from spreading throughout India.
Patel has compared Modi's actions to that of a man confronted with a sudden fire, who rushes to the scene, and, as it is going out of control and spreading, successfully extinguishes the fire, in record time, thus saving many lives, and the surrounding neighborhood from burning, yet the man who put out the fire, the hero, gets falsely blamed for arson.
"He may have saved thousands, tens of thousands of lives by how he handled the riots," said Patel. "Muslims killed 58 people because they were Hindus. Imagine the mood of the people, in my hometown, where it happened. Naturally there was retaliation by the families of those who lost their loved ones by this senseless killing. Modi knew there had to be justice for the victims but not vengeance. But he was unwilling to pander to terrorists, yet, at the same time he quelled uproarious rioting and stopped the violence within hours of the catalyst event."
Most of the attendees of the fundraiser who were interviewed by the Reporter said they look to Modi as a harbinger of change in India - a man who will restore national pride in the oldest religion in the world - Hinduism - and restore the ancient culture where the dominating character of the nation is not politics but spirituality.
|Narendra Modi is unabashedly Hindu.
Omprakash Sabharwal, who was born in 1923 in Peshawar, India, which is now Pakistan - lost to India in the 1940's following the brutal Hindu-Muslim riots that led to partition and the creation of Pakistan - was a freedom fighter during the British occupation.
"Regardless of which party comes into power," Sabharwal said of Modi's decisive character, "they should have the ability to govern without interference, and that is what I see with Mr. Modi".
Other attendees spoke of Modi's honesty.
Yash Shah said that before Modi came to power in Gujarat, the government was corrupt. "Now I can get various forms or other items done in a matter of hours without being asked to bribe someone," Shah said. Shah also attributes a sea change in government bureaucracy to a streamlining of processes Modi initiated.
Unabashedly pro-Hindu, Modi never fails to credit the spiritual leaders of Hinduism's hoary past as deserving of higher honor than political leaders, past or present.
One such figure, who has ties to both Modi and Niagara Falls, is the man Modi describes as the virtual father of the nation, Swami Vivekananda, who inspired the freedom movement in India and, at the same time, introduced Hinduism and Yoga to America in 1893, at the Parliament of Religions at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Vivekananda, who lived in America for about four years, visited Niagara Falls at least nine times. Modi pointed out that it was the recognition Vivekananda was accorded in America that ignited all of India, inspiring freedom workers from Gandhi to Nehru to Subash Bose to take up the cause of Vivekananda, who was, Modi never tires of reminding audiences, not a political leader, but a penniless monk.
Vivekananda exhorted them in their freedom fight to put spirituality ahead of politics.
"God and truth are the only politics I believe in. Everything else is trash," said Vivekananda.
Now, again, Americans - albeit of Indian ancestry - are supporting a celebrated Hindu.
Modi's possible - if not inevitable - election as prime minister - is seen as the cessation of the long descent into the bowels of pandering by the politically expedient class to terrorists and bullies, and a return to the glory days when a Hindu India was the beacon of the world, and the wealth of India was proverbial.
The fundraiser's sponsor, B. F. Patel, said that what prompted him to hold this event was Modi's dedication to, above all, keeping his word.
"Whatever he promises, he fulfills that promise."
During the event, two prominent allies of Modi addressed the Niagara Falls gathering via video conferencing from India.
Vijay Jolly, a statesmen and a member of the National Executive Committee of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Meenakshi Lekhi, the national spokesperson for the BJP and a lawyer of the Supreme Court of India, addressed the Patel gathering, thanking those gathered in Niagara Falls for their interest in Modi and the welfare of the largest Democracy in the world.
(Niagara Falls Reporter special correspondent Vik Bhargava contributed to this report.)