Modi’s election victory undermines Indian democracy and secular status

More persecution ahead for Indian Muslims

Surprisingly, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in as India’s prime minister on June 9, this year for a rare third term.

Although the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), together with its National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has won a majority, despite a sharp reduction in their seats compared with the 2019 elections, yet, the final election results showed that Modi’s BJP won 240 seats, well below the 272 needed for a majority. Modi has been elected leader of the NDA alliance led by him, securing 293 seats in the 543-seat lower house of parliament.

The outcome is being seen as a huge setback for the Indian opposition’s alliance and Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi. The alliance has won just over 230 seats and doesn’t have the numbers to cobble together a government.

Modi unveiled on June 10 his coalition government with 11 posts going to coalition allies who extracted them— including five in the top 30 cabinet posts. But, Modi’s BJP old extremist guard dominate the list— signalling broad policy continuity, which includes BJP loyalists Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, S Jaishankar Telugu Desam Party etc.

International analysts and media entities as well human rights groups stated: “The recent election victory of Narendra Modi has raised significant concerns over minority rights, creating fears among India’s Muslim community…Modi, who has been a polarizing figure since his first term in 2014, has often faced criticism for his government’s stance towards minorities, particularly Muslims…The BJP, under Modi’s leadership, has been associated with increased societal tensions. Modi’s tenure has seen a rise in civil society attacks, which many attribute to the BJP’s nationalist agenda”.

In fact, encouraged by the fanatic Premier Modi, Hindu extremist outfits such as the BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena, including other similar parties, have been promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism especially against Muslims who are being violently targeted by radical Hindus. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had stated on record: “Bharat is Hindu Rashtra and all Bharatiyas are Hindus”.

Modi had already been a pracharak of the Hindu nationalist-RSS- the ideological parent of his BJP.

The BJP won the Indian general elections of 2014 and 2019 on the basis of anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan slogans. Since Modi, the leader of the extremist ruling party BJP, became Indian prime minister, he started implementing the ideology of Hindutva (Hindu Nationalism). Again, during the election campaign of 2024, the Hindu majority had been mobilsed especially on ‘hate Muslim’ slogans.

Modi’s BJP party launched its large-scale, state-funded election campaign long before the date for the elections of the Lok Sabha held between April 19 and June 1, this year.

The government amended the rules for selecting members of the Election Commission, removed the chief justice from the committee and replaced him with a minister to be appointed by the PM— What is then left to say about the impartiality of the Election Commission?

On March 21, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the opposition Aam Aadmi Party, was arrested by India’s financial crime agency, as were other ministers and various entities of the opposition parties.

India’s main opposition party Congress on May 16 condemned Premier Modi for anti-Muslim comments in election campaign speeches, which has heightened concerns over sectarian tensions.

Modi had claimed that the main opposition Congress party would redistribute the nation’s wealth to Muslims if it won. He accused Congress of planning to commit “vote jihad”, accused that his opponents were rallying Muslims to vote against him.

India’s poll code prohibits sectarian campaigning and opposition parties lodged a complaint about an earlier Modi speech with the election commission, which had to announce any sanctions against the premier.

BBC reported on May 7, “Opposition leaders and political commentators say PM Modi, who’s seeking a rare third term…other leaders from his Hindu nationalist party are resorting to blatant Islamophobia”.

The Independent reported on May 14: “Indian comedian Shyam Rangeela seeking to take on Narendra Modi as an independent candidate in India’s general election said: “His application was rejected by the authorities on a technicality…Democracy was murdered today”.

The BJP not only embraces act and policies which discriminate against Muslims and other non-Hindu religious minorities, but also turns up its pressure on media and judiciary. This can be judged from the verdict of the Indian Supreme Court which upheld the Modi-led government’s decision on Kashmir’s special status.

The Independent reported on May 15: “India grants first citizenships under new law criticised for discriminating against Muslims…The citizenship was granted to 14 people on Wednesday amid the ongoing general elections, even as anxious people living in Bangladesh-bordering states continued to protest the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act [CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC]… has been one of the key manifesto promises of Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party…The law, implemented in March, grants the right to apply for Indian citizenship to refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who arrived in India before 31 December 2014”.

On 15 December 2019, despite daily mass protests, across every state against the CAA and the NRC, which resulted into killing of more than 300 persons-mostly Muslims by the police and prejudiced Hindus, the Modi-led regime has not withdrawn the CAA/NRC—attacks on Muslims, their shops, burning of their houses, mosque etc. might be cited as an example.

World media entities, like Al Jazeera pointed out: “Most of the Indian media is openly promoting BJP and Narendra Modi. Since the announcement of elections, media platforms have been organising events featuring the prime minister and other ministers and BJP leaders, giving them every opportunity to promote themselves and their agenda. This courtesy has not been extended to opposition leaders. Media has also been pushing the narrative that the opposition is weak, the PM remains popular and there is no real alternative to him or the BJP. Any independent media organization or new media platform that dares to move away from the government narratives is facing attacks and intimidation from the government…who is to police their actions and censure them for making a mockery of Indian democracy?…The international community is watching all this with concern”.

Under the Modi regime, other biased parties also started acting upon the ideology of Hindutva, as various developments like unprecedented rise of Hindu fanaticism, persecution of religious minorities such as Muslims Christians, Sikhs etc., and even lower-caste Hindus like Dalits have been intensified by the prejudiced Hindus. But, Muslims have become special targets of extremist Hindus.

Notably, the Indian Constitution declares India to be a secular and democratic state, whch safeguards the rights of religious minorities, but, under the Modi-led regime, discrimination particularly against the Muslims— assaults on their places of worships and property, ban on beef and cow slaughter, creation of war-like situation with Pakistan and so on, have clearly proved that Hindu fundamentalist outfits such as the RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena especially associated with RSS have been promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism in India by propagating the Hindutva ideology.

In March-April 2022; “Multiple calls by Hindu organisations were made particularly for the economic boycott of Muslim minority in the states of Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh had been supported by state representatives and respective state governments.

And protests by members of the Muslim minority in response to the decision of the Karnataka High Court to uphold a governmental ban on Muslim girls wearing the hijab in educational institutions are also notable.

It is of particular attention that on 5 August 2019, the Modi-led government abrogated articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the disputed territory of Indian-Occupied Kashmir. New Delhi bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, to be ruled by the federal government. On the same day, strict military lockdown was imposed in Indian-Occupied Kashmir, which continues unabated.

In this respect, the deployment of more than 900,000 military troops in the IIOJK, who have martyred tens of thousands of the Kashmiris as well as women and children through brutal tactics-fake encounters, while closure of mosques, shortage of foods, medicines for the patients have further increased the plight of the Kashmiris.

Besides, under a well-planned hidden agenda, Modi-led regime has intensified, bringing ethno- demographic changes in IIOJK. In this context, Indian various moves such as introduction of new laws, amendment of the laws to facilitate non-Kashmiris and outsiders in order to usurp the rights of the Muslim Kashmiris—issuance of domicile certificates to more than 800000 non-Kashmiris, registration of almost 2.5 million new non-local voters in the IIOJK—failure of fake drama to host G-20 summit on May 22-24, 2023 in the IIOJK, from time to time, violations of the Line of Control (LoC) by shelling inside Pakistanis side of Kashmir—in violation of the ceasefire agreement of 2003 might be cited as instance.

The top Indian court closed all proceedings relating to the 2002 riots in Gujarat, which killed over a thousand Muslims, as well as the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid (Mosque), as leaders of the Hindu fanatic parties and Modi were involved in these tragedies.

Modi’s anti-Muslim chauvinism took a dangerous turn on 5 August 2020 when he laid the foundation stone for the Hindu Ram temple at the site of the demolished Babri mosque in Ayodhya.

The BJP not only embraces act and policies which discriminate against Muslims and other non-Hindu religious minorities, but also turns up its pressure on media and judiciary.

This can be judged from the verdict of the Indian Supreme Court which upheld the Modi-led government’s decision on Kashmir’s special status.

Similarly, the Supreme Court gave bail to RSS leader Swami Aseemanand-after the covert interference of the Modi-led authorities which changed the investigations into the 2007 Samjhota Express blast which killed 68 Pakistanis.

So, Mondi’s election victory undermined Indian democracy and secular status.

Sajjad Shaukat
Sajjad Shaukat
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations and can be reached at [email protected]

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