NEW YORK: The humiliating rout of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Indian state of Bihar is a “repudiation” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to a leading American newspaper, which suggested that he should get rid of the officials in his government and party who are fueling sectarian culture wars.
“Voters in the country’s third most populous state have sent Mr. Modi a message: Put an end to the hate-mongering,” The New York Times said in an editorial: A Rebuke to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pointing out that Modi had failed to deliver on his promised development for all”, the Times said that the members of his government and political party have “shredded” his pledges of inclusion by inflaming sectarian tensions.
“Poisoning politics with religious hatred is bound to squander the country’s economic potential at a time when India should be playing a bigger and more constructive role in South Asia and the world,” the editorial said, adding, “India’s history is filled with examples of religious and caste-based violence that set the country back.”
“In the months leading up to the Bihar election, hard-liners in the B.J.P. and organizations affiliated with the party stoked India’s long-simmering sectarian tensions,” the editorial said, noting that his party’s lawmakers pushed for beef bans around the country ostensibly to protect the cow, but really as a ploy to divide Hindus and Muslims.
“Mr. Modi has not forcefully condemned the beef-related killings, despite pleas by Muslims and other minorities. He has tolerated hateful and insensitive remarks by his ministers and by B.J.P. officials,” the Times said.
“During a campaign stop in Bihar, Mr. Modi tried to exploit sectarian divisions by telling voters that the secular alliance would reduce affirmative action benefits for lower-caste Hindus and tribes in favor of ‘a particular community'” an apparent reference to Muslims. And the president of the B.J.P., Amit Shah, one of Mr. Modi’s closest advisers, told voters that a victory for the alliance would be celebrated in Pakistan… ”
“Mr. Modi and the B.J.P. secured a majority in the lower house of Parliament last year with promises of economic reforms. Now, to push through those reforms, the party needs to win the control of the upper house, which is elected by state assemblies. It won’t win those elections unless Mr. Modi gets rid of the officials in his government and party who are fueling sectarian culture wars.
“Meanwhile, there are things Mr. Modi could do administratively to improve the economy, like investing in education and health care and building infrastructure. Voters in Bihar have sent the B.J.P. a clear message. Mr. Modi should heed it.’