A copy of this letter appeared in The Times today –
Decisions over who should lead India will be made via the ballot box, rather than by military action
Sir, Further to Philip Collins’ very measured article on the visit by Narendra Modi (Nov 13), we must remind ourselves that Indian democracy has always been robust enough to remove anti-democratic leaders. So Mrs Gandhi, who imposed the Emergency, was removed through the ballot box, not by tanks. I lived through that, the only suspension of democracy India has ever had, and it was much worse than what is happening now. Let us not forget that Mrs Thatcher and Michael Foot visited India then and praised Mrs Gandhi.
This is not to gloss over the growing intolerance in India, with Modi turning a blind eye to his fundamentalist Hindu followers. However, the previous regimes could also be intolerant, even banning books. It was under Mrs Gandhi’s son Rajiv’s rule in 1985 that my book on the Aga Khans, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismailis, was banned. Although a historical study, it was deemed to have offended Ismaili religious sentiments. I am confident the Indian electorate will get rid of Modi should he fail.