Posts Tagged ‘Bharatiya Janata Party’

India to be led by pro-business Hindu nationalist

May 20, 2014

The founders of the Republic of India were secularists.   They wrote a constitution which, like the U.S. constitution, was friendly to religion, but religiously neutral.  Like the U.S. founders, they sought to instill a patriotism based on constitutional loyalty rather than loyalty to a racial, religious or ethnic group.

Narendra Modi, India’s new prime minister, rose to power as a Hindu nationalist. This is cause for concern.   Ethnic nationalism linked to religion is poison.  It links the total loyalty that is demanded by religion to the narrow and exclusive interests of a particular racial or cultural group.

The Hindu religion has given the world great spiritual insights, but in recent years rioting Hindus have killed Muslims, Christians and other minority groups, and Modi has refused to condemn them.

When Modi was chief minister of Gujarat province in 2002, rioting Hindus killed 1,200 Muslims and drove out hundreds of thousands more.  Modi was accused of egging the rioters on.   The U.S. State Department denied him a visa on human rights grounds.  However,  an Indian investigating commission found no evidence of guilt.

During the current election campaign, Modi said his priority will be economic development.  He even appealed for Muslim votes, much like Gov. George Wallace appealing for African-American votes the last time he ran for governor of Alabama.

His Bharatiya Janata Party won 37 percent of the national vote, but that was enough to give it a majority of seats in Parliament.  The Congress Party, which governed India since independence, received only 23 percent.  The other 40 percent was divided among regional and splinter parties.

french book indiaAnalysts think Modi’s success was largely due to public disgust with the corruption of the Congress Party.  Some weeks ago I read a book, India: a Portrait by a journalist named Patrick French.  The author pointed out that not only have almost all the leaders of the Congress Party been members of the Gandhi and Nehru families and their widows, but the successful candidates in the lower levels of the party also are members of family dynasties — India’s version of the Kennedys, Clintons and Bushes.

This being so, ambitious people with ability but no connections joined the BJP, and their aim is a country open to enterprise and initiative and free of Congress’s stifling bureaucracy.  Modi said his priority will be economic development — more toilets, not more temples.  May it be so!