Narendra Modi, India's prime minister elect has been compared to Adolf Hitler. He comes with “impressive” Nazi credentials to earn the epithet. India's minorities, especially the 150 million Muslims, will find life even more difficult now under Modi who has won a clear majority to rule.
Saturday May 17, 2014, 11:33 DST
In India’s convoluted elections that ended on May 12, the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has swept into power on a landslide, making the controversial Narendra Modi as the new Prime Minister. Preliminary results were announced on May 16 and it was immediately clear that the BJP had achieved greater success than its own wildest estimates.
Modi’s public platform was based on the promise to restore India’s economy to the booming years of growth but there is more to his agenda than mere economics. He has aroused the jingoistic tendencies of his Hindu revivalist supporters but his victory has sent shudders down the spine of India’s Muslim minority even if they have remained mum or tried to put on a brave face despite their well founded fears.
Indians had become disenchanted with the ruling Congress party, which is seen as hypocritical and not faithful to the promises it made to the populace. Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tendered his resignation, in midst of the victory parades for his rival.
Modi’s victory has aroused much fear within India’s minority communities, particularly the Muslims. As chief minister of India’s Gujarat state, he was at the helm in February 2002 when the deadly anti-Muslim pogroms erupted. More than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims were killed, many of them burned alive.
Modi has been accused of at best, doing nothing to stop the pogrom, and at worst, in abetting the anti-Muslim pogrom.
The Hindu right “sees Muslims as a threat to their idea of India, which is a Hindu India”, Imam Abdullah Shah of Jami Masjid Delhi said. “So Muslims, as a minority, will not feel secure. They’ll feel threatened.”
Muslim leaders have spoken out against Modi as well. Asaduddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen, last month compared Modi to Adolf Hitler.
However, Modi’s campaign team made efforts during election to ally the concerns. The prime minister elect’s “development for all” slogan appealed particularly to young voters.
Modi’s campaign team even pointed to Gujarat, and the relatively stronger economic position of Gujarat’s Muslims, as proof that Modi is not anti-Muslim.
Gujarat’s supposed economic “progress” has been built on huge handouts to big business and land provided to them at throwaway prices while ordinary farmers have been evicted without adequate compensation.
Modi’s election has also impacted neighbor Pakistan. Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder reporting from Islamabad, said there is are some fears from the Pakistani side, but the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said he is looking forward to a positive relationship. “Even though there is optimism things will move forward, there are apprehensions,” Hyder said.
Modi’s election significantly impacts India’s Muslim minority, which faces rampant discrimination in their daily life. That fear has spiked with the BJP now back in power with a clear majority in Parliament and a prime minister who as chief minister of Gujarat presided over one of the worst pogroms of Muslims in recent history.
“Fear is a basic part of politics, and it’s actually how politicians gain respect, but for us fear also comes from the general public,” said Zahir Alam, Imam of the Bari Masjid in East Delhi, in an interview given to the New York Times. “The meaning of minority has never been clearer than it is today.”