India’s Modi condemns anti-Muslim remarks; colleague remains defiant

NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – Indian opposition leader Narendra Modi today sought to calm fears about the future of religious minorities under his rule, saying his government would represent all Indians whether they voted for him or not in an ongoing general election.

Modi, prime ministerial candidate for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and favourite to become India’s next leader, is running on a platform of reviving an economy going through its worst slowdown since the 1980s.

But half way through a five-week campaign to win over the country’s 815 million voters, some members of the BJP and its hardline affiliates are facing accusations of trying to whip up a partisan agenda.

Their statements have re-ignited concerns among religious minorities about a BJP government, which rivals say has a deep-seated bias against India’s 150 million Muslims.

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

This government belongs to those who have voted for it; this government belongs to those who have voted against it; this government belongs even to those who could not cast their ballot,” Modi told the ABP News television channel.

“And the mantra of my government is absence of fear.”

The comments came after Giriraj Singh, a leader of the Bihar state wing of the party, said those opposed to Modi would have to leave India and go to Pakistan after the BJP won the election and formed a government.

Modi said nobody could agree with Singh’s comments.

In a Twitter post, he admonished his colleagues on the Hindu far right for railing against India’s Muslims and liberals in the election campaign, dubbing their statements “irresponsible”.

Television channels this week showed a video in which Praveen Togadia, a firebrand member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a sister organisation of the BJP, was seen offering advice on how to prevent Muslims from buying property in Hindu-dominated areas.

Togadia denied that, saying he only asked Hindus to seek the help of police to resolve property disputes involving Muslims.

On Monday, a leader of the BJP’s alliance partner in the Western state of Maharashtra said Modi would teach a lesson to Muslim rioters. Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam made the comments at a joint election rally with Modi in Mumbai.

“CROCODILE TEARS”

Modi himself is tainted by accusations that he turned a blind eye to, or even encouraged Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002 in Gujarat, the state he has governed for 13 years. More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in the violence.

He has always denied the accusations and a Supreme Court inquiry did not find evidence to prosecute him.

“These crocodile tears … will not do,” said Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a leader of the ruling Congress party, referring to Modi’s Twitter posts criticising colleagues’ statements.

“People know the truth.”

While opinion polls predict Modi’s BJP-led alliance will win the biggest chunk of the 543 parliamentary seats being contested in the election that ends on May 12, most of them show he will need new partners in order to secure a majority.

An anti-Muslim pitch would not only make it tougher for him to find partners, but could also drive away some middle-class voters whose support Modi is banking on to unseat Congress.

But some of Modi’s colleagues remain defiant.

BJP leader Singh, who is contesting the election in the northern state of Bihar, said he stood by his statement. “I have said what I felt. I will give my explanation.”

This month, the election commission banned one of Modi’s top aides from election rallies on charges of making inflammatory speeches against Muslims.

The ban was lifted last week after the aide, Amit Shah, vowed not to use abusive or derogatory language. The commission said that it would monitor his campaigning.

More in World News

default placeholder

Munich gunman raised locally, had no ties to Islamic state -police

BERLIN, (Reuters) – A German-Iranian teenager who shot and killed nine people and then himself in Munich on Friday had received psychiatric care and was in all probability a lone gunman who had no ties to Islamic State, police said.

A screen grab taken from video footage shows a view of the Olympia shopping mall, the scene of a shooting rampage in Munich, Germany July 22, 2016. Marc Mueller/Handout via REUTERS

German-Iranian gunman kills at least nine in Munich shopping mall

MUNICH,  (Reuters) – An 18-year-old German-Iranian gunman who apparently acted alone opened fire in a busy shopping mall in Munich last evening, killing at least nine people in the third attack against civilians in Western Europe in eight days.

Tim Kaine

Democrat Clinton picks Kaine as running mate, bypassing liberals

WASHINGTON/TAMPA, Fla., (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton named U.S. Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate yesterday, opting for an experienced governing partner who will help her present the Democratic ticket as a steady alternative to the unpredictable campaign of Republican presidential rival Donald Trump.

default placeholder

Zimbabwe war veterans turn on “dictator” Mugabe, exposing rifts

HARARE,  (Reuters) – Zimbabwean war veterans turned on their long-time ally President Robert Mugabe, describing him as a dictator in a jolting rebuke underlining political manoeuvring over his succession and mounting anger over economic woes.

Christine Lagarde

IMF’s Lagarde to stand trial in Tapie case

PARIS, (Reuters) – France’s highest appeals court ruled today that International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde must stand trial for her role in a 400 million euros ($440 million) state payout in 2008 to businessman Bernard Tapie.

default placeholder

Trump vows law and order if elected, sharply criticizes Clinton

CLEVELAND, (Reuters) – Donald Trump accused Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of a legacy of “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness” as U.S.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.



Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: