Friday, May 16, 2014

Concerns Over Religious Tolerance In India Raised As BJP's Modi Is Elected Prime Minister

Reuters this morning reports that in India, markets are soaring as Narendra Modi's pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to have won a landslide Parliamentary majority. Modi has been Chief Minister of Gujarat state since 2001. Writing at CNN, journalist Sunny Hundal however raises the question of whether Modi as prime minister will threaten India's liberal secular tradition. He writes in part:
Established as a secular and liberal nation in 1950, India will find itself in uncharted territory as it has never before had a hardline Hindu nationalist at the helm.
This raises an important question: what will Modi the prime minister be like? Will he sweep away the corruption scandals blighting the country's reputation and do a better job of rejuvenating India, or will he inflame religious tensions as some fear?
Much of the criticism aimed at Modi has focused on the riots of 2002 when hundreds, possibly thousands, of Muslims were butchered by Hindu mobs, while his government was accused of standing by and watching. But if a Prime Minister Modi carries on like he did as Chief Minister of Gujarat state and as the candidate for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during campaigning, there are plenty of reasons to be worried about the future. The future Modi is a terrifying prospect if he is based on the past Modi.