WASHINGTON: Muslims in India are under threat and a studied silence by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a spate of attacks on Muslims shows his turn toward hardline identity politics ahead of national elections in 2019, a Wall Street Journal report said.
India’s secularists face their biggest challenge since independence in 1947 as minorities rights are under threat and hardly a week goes by when there is no attack on Muslims by vigilantes somewhere in the country, the report said.
Recently, Yogi Adityanath, a monk-cum-politicians best known for creating a thuggish private militia and inciting anti-Muslim emotions became the Chief Minister of India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh.
Mr. Modi last year condemned some attacks on Muslims, but his support for Adityanath and a mum on a spate of recent attacks shows his leaning toward hardline identity politics ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“With the BJP ascendant – most serious observers expect Mr. Modi to cruise to re-election in two years – India’s secularists face arguably their biggest challenge since independence in 1947,” the WSJ report said, adding that country’s long synonymous with pluralism “may end up marginalizing its 172 million-strong Muslim minority.”
Many left-leaning intelligentsia is blaming the BJP and the Hindu nationalist movement for the upsurge in anti-Muslim sentiment.
Adityanath’s elevation shows that the party has done a poor job of sidelining extremists. This begs the question: Why do so many Indians prefer the BJP to its opponents?,” the report observed.
While no single reasons can explain, it is safe to say that traditional version of Indian “secularism associated with Congress has lost favor.” Secularists have lost the moral high ground to Hindu nationalists by not taking terrorism seriously and secularists in the media and politics need to acknowledge that their mode has failed. -APP