Hindu nationalist win worries religious minorities in India

INDIAN voters have voted Prime Minister Narendra Modi back in office for a second term. His Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won with a large majority. According to a source close to the Church, ‘the victory of Modi is a source of frustration and fear for the minorities in India.

“The five years with Narendra Modi in power have brought many concerns and they have been extremely difficult for us. We are fearful that the next five years will be still worse.” The source spoke to Aid to the Church in Need and who asked to remain anonymous for reasons of security.

Catholic faithful in India

“The fact that the Hindu nationalist BJP party has won so overwhelmingly is a warning signal for us, since it shows that Hindu nationalism is growing and the minorities—both the Christians and the Muslims—often find ourselves abandoned in the face of social injustice and discrimination for religious reasons, which happens quite openly. Also, the Indian economy has been going downhill in recent years and the poor are now even poorer than before. The poorest classes are being overlooked and the rich are the only ones who have benefited,” the source said, adding:

“Hindu nationalism does not want to see any changes in the social structures and many people in India are currently living in a state of semi-slavery. Those belonging to the lowest classes are used and exploited;” one of the few institutions striving to change this situation is the Catholic Church and this why we are the target of discrimination and oppression.” The BJP’s brand of Hinduism considers Christianity and Islam to be foreign imports.

The source said that many people in India are in a state of shock: “We cannot quite believe what has happened. Even in those states and districts where polls had suggested that the outlook was less favorable for Modi, in the end his party gained many more seats than had been predicted.” There have been reports about alleged manipulation of the electronic voting system; there have also been allegations of vote buying. This was also confirmed by the source: “I also saw how hundreds of destitute day laborers were called together just a few days before the elections and how they were each given 3000 Rupees (about $40) on behalf of the BJP.”

ACN’s source concluded with an appeal for prayers for India, and added: “It is very dangerous to speak out against the government; almost nobody dares to do so nowadays, since they have converted themselves into an authoritarian party. But I want people to know what things are like for us, since the world needs to know that the situation is a bad one and that we are afraid. These have already been five years filled with fear, and now we are asking ourselves what is the future is going to hold for us?”

—Maria Lozano