Narendra Modi, the leader of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (“BJP”), is an extremely controversial leader who has been leading current polls and surveys because of his approach to injecting new life into India’s economy and working towards a corruption free government. The country-wide election has already started and will end on May 12th which is when the new Prime Minister will be announced.
Muslims, who make up approximately 14% – 15% of India’s population, fear Modi’s (who is a Hindu nationalist) potential election because of riots that occurred in his home state of Gujarat where Hindu mobs killed over 1,000 people. Although Muslims have been very vocal of their opposition, many others including Hindus, have also voiced concern over the election of Modi because of his lack of involvement to stop and oppose the deadly riots.
In 2001, a train carrying Hindu pilgrims stopped in Gujarat and clashed with Muslims when there was a fire set to a train (suspected to be set by Muslims) and 59 Hindus were killed. After this event, riots occurred for several days with Hindus targeting Muslims. Modi apparently did nothing to stop the riots although he had it within his power to call to action the state’s security forces. In his defense, Modi recently said in an interview, “If there is any truth to the allegations I should be made to stand in the crossroads and hung.” He has denied, from the very first allegation, any wrongdoing and any negative involvement or targeting of Muslims.
Muslims and Hindus have lived in relative peace in India for a while, and the main concern with the election of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister is a concentrated separation of Muslim and Hindu treatment that would include preferential treatment of Hindus and a significant promotion of the Hindu faith. Many Muslims fear that India would become a non-secular state while many Hindus support Modi because of their belief that he will advance their ideology.
Modi has avoided any major statements about the issues connected with the 2001 riots and instead has delivered promises to clean up public water access, improvements to the country’s infrastructure, the development of major international business within India and many other platforms to improve India’s economic and political viability.