Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's friendship with US President Donald Trump was eye-catching. The issue has been visible since the time of Donald Trump's visit to India and Donald Trump was given unprecedented warm hospitality on his visit to India.
But after Trump's election defeat and Trump's role in post-election violence, India could not stand by him. Modi has lost his close ally in Trump's defeat. Now Modi has lost even his closest relatives in the Middle East also. The days ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known as a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former US President Donald Trump, cannot be overstated.
Coincidentally, both Netanyahu and Modi were cornered in their respective countries under pressure from opposition parties and supporters. Netanyahu was in power for almost 15 years. This time eight opposition parties formed a strong alliance against him.
On the other hand, Modi has come under fire and criticism not only from the opposition but also from the international community for failing to take effective steps to stem the rise of the Covid-19 epidemic. In the last assembly elections in West Bengal, the entire BJP used state power but lost miserably to the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress. This defeat has made Modi widely questioned by his own party. After the departure of allies like Trump and Netanyahu, it remains to be seen whether Modi's future will follow the same path after the 2024 general election.
Netanyahu, a close friend of Modi, was named Israel's longest-serving prime minister in 2019 when he was accused of several major corruption scandals. Opposition parties were pushing for a stronger coalition since then. Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, two influential leaders in the Netanyahu bloc, reached a final agreement on forming a new coalition government. This present coalition government will be the first government in the history of Israel to have a pro-Arab Islamic party as its ally.
Although Netanyahu's Likud party won the most seats as a single party in the March election, the nationalist allies failed to form a coalition government. The far-right allies of the Likud party did not agree to form a coalition with the United Arab List. The Arab List, which has won several seats in recent elections, has emerged as the new kingmaker of Israeli politics.
Netanyahu was cornered in Israeli politics since allegations of bribery and breach of trust surfaced against him. Netanyahu spent most of his long term in power, evicting Palestinians and building illegal Jewish settlements. His tactics were widely criticized but Netanyahu could not be stopped. This mentality of Netanyahu ruined his acceptance in the country and in the international arena. In many cases, the United States has not been able to agree with Netanyahu's policies.
Capitalizing on this US attitude, political leaders in the anti-Netanyahu camp have accused Israel of being deprived of US support because of Netanyahu's extremist and one-sided policies. But after 15 long years, Netanyahu has been removed and a new prime minister is ready to lead Israel.
On the other hand, when it comes to India, it can be said that Netanyahu is well ahead of India in terms of personal popularity. His close ally Narendra Modi has played a key role in creating a positive image of his friend Netanyahu in his own country. The two prime ministers have also come a long way in bilateral defense. Numerous pictures and videos of the friendship between the two leaders have gone viral on social media which is known to everyone in the world.
Netanyahu congratulated Narendra Modi as the first foreign leader since he came to power for the second time in 2019. The same year, a video was uploaded from the official Twitter account of the Israeli embassy in India honoring the alliance with India, showing Netanyahu and Modi performing simultaneously with a Bollywood movie song. Following the release of this tweet, Prime Minister Modi also reacted by tweeting in Hebrew about the close relations between the two countries. Netanyahu and Modi have been portrayed as extremists not only through social media but also in the international arena. World leaders consider these two people to have much in common.
When Narendra Modi won for the first time in 2014 and was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India, it was said that the BJP came to power using Modi's popularity. Political analysts believe that after a long period of time, a strong-minded Prime Minister has come to India who can take some bold decisions domestically and internationally. Earlier, India had Indira Gandhi as its strongest Prime Minister.
Under Modi's leadership, India has consistently sought to emerge as a military power in Asia and the Pacific. He also sent a message to the bordering countries that they would have to pay a heavy price if they dared to cross the border into India. In March 2019, the then Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that India had destroyed several terrorist bases on foreign soil through three surgical strikes. An operation was launched in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir in 2016 in retaliation for the Uri terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir and the killing of 40 Indian security personnel in Pulwama. In this context, along with Pakistan, India's conflict with China began.
Although India claims the success of these surgical operations, it is always been considered as a controversial issue for sure. A MiG-29 was destroyed in an airstrike in Pakistan and a pilot was captured by Pakistan. Then in 2020, India faced a major catastrophe on the border with China. China claims to have killed 20 Indian soldiers in the conflict, but the Indian administration has not commented on any Chinese casualties. China later said four of its soldiers were killed.
Opposition parties, including the Congress, which has been siding with China on the Ladakh border, have been vocal in their criticism of Modi. This is not the biggest challenge for Narendra Modi. The failure to deal with the epidemic and the BJP's massive defeat in provincial elections, including in West Bengal, have now become a catastrophe for Modi. India's weak health sector and the short-sighted leadership of the Modi administration have been widely criticized in the world media. Tragic deaths due to lack of oxygen in various hospitals, burning of bodies without burial or floating in water have not been seen in any other country except India. Even in such a situation, the Modi government has planned a big budget in the name of development. A CNN report also said that the Modi government is trying to divert attention from coronavirus by investing in other optional sectors without ensuring the safety of citizens' lives.
Modi's victory was once celebrated through social media, but last April, the most popular trend was the resignation of Modi. After Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool victory, the trend of wanting a Bengali Prime Minister can also be seen on Twitter. Civil society in India and writers, journalists and residents of the entertainment world are also slowly opening their mouths to criticize Modi. All in all, Modi will have to face many challenges in the days ahead. Analysts believe that it will not be easy at all for Narendra Modi to face the challenges of 2024, but his path may be similar to that of his two close allies, Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump.
The writer is a postgraduate student, University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh