13 March 2017, The Tablet

Concern for India's Christian minority as Hindu nationalist party sweeps to victory in country's largest state

The right-wing, Hindu fundamentalist BJP party has been criticised in the past for anti-christian legislation

On 11 March, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 325 of the 403 seats in state legislature in Uttar Pradesh - which has a population of more than 200 million.

"The BJP banked on the [majority] Hindu vote on a Hindu platform. Other [political] parties did not have an effective strategy to counter the BJPs well coordinated campaign," John Dayal, outspoken Catholic activist told The Tablet on 13 March.

The right-wing Hindu nationalist party, which promotes an official ideology of ‘integral humanism’, does not have any Christian or Muslim representation at senior level, despite Muslims accounting for 19 per cent of the state's population and in some areas even 40 per cent, explained Dayal.

While the BJP won a similar resounding victory in the nearby tiny state of Uttarakhand, the party was defeated in northern Punjab state by the opposition Congress party.

In western Goa state, where nearly a quarter of the population of 1.5 million are Catholic, the ruling BJP was voted out by 40 votes to 13 with eight of its 12 ministers, including the chief minister, being defeated.

However, the defeated BJP has cobbled together a majority with the federally appointed Governor inviting the BJP to form the Government, ignoring the claim for power from the opposition Congress party that has emerged the largest in the fractured verdict with 17 seats.

"The voters have been fooled. The losers are back in power," a senior Catholic journalist working at a Goan daily told The Tablet.

Amid widespread criticism of the brazen 'stealing' of the Goa verdict by the BJP, Dayal lamented:

"This political arrogance of the BJP is alarming. The message seems to be "we will do whatever we want and you have to live under us."


PICTURE: Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah (C) gestures for victory at the party's headquarters after BJP's win in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Assembly elections, New Delhi, 11 March


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