For the occasion, there has been a significant and contentious “beautification drive” in New Delhi, during which several slums have been destroyed and their residents relocated.
Newly painted lotus flower murals, the BJP’s (Bharatiya Janata Party) election symbol, have surfaced, and Modi-like billboards line the repaved roadways.
Popular author and activist Arundhati Roy told news channels, “You’d be excused for believing the BJP was organising this event, not the government of India.
Since Modi took office in 2014, Roy, 61, has been a vociferous opponent of the way the Indian government has treated its 200 million Muslims and other minorities.
She spoke with news reporters from her New Delhi home on the G20 meeting and the situation of India’s minorities.
Look, I doubt anyone really gives a damn about that since. Everyone is seeking an opportunity at the G20, whether it is a commercial agreement, a purchase of military hardware, or a geopolitical strategic understanding. It follows that neither the heads of state nor anyone else who is coming here doesn’t really understand what is happening in India. In nations like the US, UK, and France, the mainstream media has been so critical of what’s happening in India, but the governments have a different agenda altogether. So I don’t think one needs to be naive enough to believe that that is an issue at all for the people coming here.
Not at all. All of them won’t. I don’t have any such hopes. But I think what’s interesting is that, if you were in Delhi, as I am right now, and you observed the publicity, the banners, and all the G20 preparations, you might have been forgiven for thinking that the BJP, not the Indian government, was hosting the summit. Every single banner features a massive lotus, which is a political party’s emblem. BJP of Modi.
What has happened in India and it’s so dangerous, so blatant, is that the country, the nation, the government and its institutions have all been conflated with the ruling party a political party. And that ruling party has been conflated with Modi, the individual. In fact, there is hardly any ruling party now, there’s just a ruler. So it’s as if Modi is hosting the G20. All of us are locked in. We can’t go out. The poor have been purged from the city. The slums have been screened off. The roads are barricaded, the traffic is shut down. It’s as quiet as death. It is as if he’s so ashamed of all of us, of what the city is really like. It’s been purged and locked down for this event.