India’s foreign minister on Saturday hit out at “scaremongering” critics who claim the country’s democracy is being corroded, singling out billionaire George Soros — a popular target for right-wing ire. At an event in Sydney, S Jaishankar rejected accusations that multiple raids on the BBC’s India offices showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government were veering toward authoritarianism. Jaishankar defended the prime minister, painting detractors as “scaremongering”, holding an antiquated “Euro-Atlantic view” of democracy and failing to respect the Indian people’s democratic choice. “There are still people in the world who believe that their definition, their preferences, their views must override everything else,” he said.
Indian tax authorities raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai just weeks after the broadcaster aired a documentary on Modi’s actions during deadly sectarian riots in 2002. Jaishankar singled out philanthropist Soros, who recently highlighted Modi’s close ties with fraud-accused businesses run by ally Gautam Adani and suggested that while India was a democracy, Modi “is no democrat”. Jaishankar denounced the 92-year-old Hungarian-born financier as “old, rich opinionated and dangerous” and someone who “still thinks that his views should determine how the entire world works.” “He actually thinks that it doesn’t matter that this is a country of 1.4 billion people — we are almost that — whose voters decide how the country should run.” Soros has long funded projects promoting transparency and democracy, making him the subject of countless conspiracy theories and politically motivated attacks.