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Editorial: BJP Poised for another Win in India

The anticipated re-election of Narendra Modi is likely to sow further religious division in India

by Editorial

File photo. Tolga Akmen—AFP

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to “repeat, if not outdo” its 2019 performance in India’s upcoming general elections, continuing its divisive rule that threatens the country’s longstanding secular constitution. If the BJP, and incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emerge victorious, they will secure power for a third consecutive five-year term. In the 2019 polls, Modi came to power on the back of a campaign focused on national security and the role of the armed forces; this time, the focus appears to be Hindu nationalism, as evidenced from the recent inauguration of the Ayodhya Temple on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid, fulfilling a decades-spanning dream of the Hindu far-right.

The intense focus on Hindutva, naturally, raises concerns about the treatment of minorities, particularly Muslims, under another BJP-led government. India has approximately 200 million Muslims, making them the country’s largest minority group. Even before the rise of Modi, the community had faced discrimination in employment and education for decades, encountering barriers to achieving wealth and political power. They are also disproportionately the victims of communal violence.

Since his first election in 2014, Modi and the BJP have moved to further limit the rights of Muslims under the controversial citizenship law; repeatedly ignored Muslims’ rights; and restricted religious freedoms while stoking anti-Muslim sentiments through a Hindu nationalist agenda. Unfortunately, in Hindu-majority India, targeting Muslims has traditionally helped secure electoral wins. After suffering an electoral defeat in 1977, Indira Gandhi had exploited India’s religious divisions to help return the Congress party to power in 1980.

Modi has ramped up the divisions, with his rule seeing violence against Muslims becoming commonplace, sparking protests in India, and drawing international condemnations. Some observers believe Modi’s anticipated reelection in 2024 would likely sow further religious division, continuing a legacy of animus that can be traced to pre-Partition and has also triggered all wars between India and Pakistan, befouling any chance of India upholding its constitution and striving for peace in South Asia.

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