March 05, 2016

India: Modi's party find last refuge in patriotism (The Economist, March 5, 2016)

"an ugly strain of BJP politics is distracting attention from what was supposed to be the party’s central agenda in power: ensuring rapid economic growth.

The party’s own members provoked some of the most heated spats. This week two MPs from the BJP, including a junior minister, Ram Shankar Katheria, attended a rally in Agra, near Delhi, to commemorate a Hindu activist allegedly killed by Muslims. Inflammatory speeches at the rally called Muslims “demons” and warned them of a “final battle”. The two BJP men also spoke, leading to opposition calls for the minister’s resignation. But he was unapologetic, saying that, although he had called on Hindus to unite for their own safety, and for the culprits to be executed, he himself had not named any community."

[. . .]

"The damage to India’s image is painful. Faith in the police and other institutions has been undermined. Vigilante violence has seemed to win official backing. Street protests have proliferated; on March 2nd the police in Delhi used water cannon against protesters outside Parliament. This is not the outward-looking, investor-friendly image India hopes to project. And it threatens its liberal traditions of free speech. It is not just India-hating traitors who think that the trial of Afzal Guru was unfair and that his execution was used for political ends by the previous administration, led by the Congress party. The BJP’s definition of “sedition” precludes almost any debate on the future of Kashmir—a source of tension within India and with Pakistan since independence." [. . .]

FULL TEXT AT: https://tinyurl.com/jdmfrgt