‘Permanent Polarisation’: India’s Congress Party Slams PM Modi for 'Brutalising' Minorities
The ruling BJP has rejected the charge, with the Prime Minister claiming to be working for the good of all 1.3 billion Indians without caste or religious discrimination.
Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of keeping the country in a “state of permanent polarisation” and compelling minorities to “live in a constant state of fear and insecurity” on Friday.
Gandhi, the head of India's main opposition party, was delivering the opening remarks at the three-day ‘Chintan Shivir’ (self-introspection camp) in Udaipur city, Rajasthan state.
This is the fourth time the camp has been held, with previous sittings organised in 1998, 2003 and 2013.
The event looks to prepare an “action plan” to boost the Congress Party’s prospects of “returning to power” in the 2024 parliamentary elections. The party suffered successive defeats in the 2014 and 2019 votes.
“It has become abundantly and most painfully clear what Prime Minister Modi and his colleagues mean by their frequently repeated slogan of ‘maximum governance, minimum government’,” stated the 75-year-old parliamentarian.
“It means viciously targeting, victimising and often brutalising minorities, who are an integral part of our society and are equal citizens of our republic,” she claimed.
“It also means using our society’s age-old pluralities to divide us and subverting the carefully nurtured idea of unity in diversity,” the opposition leader went on to say.
A “vast majority” of Indians want to live in peace, Gandhi claimed, but were unable to lead a peaceful co-existence because of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allied Hindu nationalist organisations.
“The fire of hatred and discord that are being ignited have taken a heavy toll on people, on their lives. This is having serious, social consequences,” she argued.
She claimed that the “worsening environment of social illiberalism shakes the very foundation of economic growth”.
Gandhi further accused the BJP and its "acolytes" of "glorifying
" the killers of Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian freedom fighter and global non-violence icon, before hitting out at the government for mismanaging the economy, referencing unprecedented unemployment figures.
The independent economic think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) claimed this month that 7.83% of working-age Indians were unemployed in April
, an uptick from the previous month.
More worryingly, it claimed that around 450 million working-age
Indians have stopped looking for a job altogether.
The sharp political attack against the BJP-led government comes amid a backdrop of Muslim Indian organisations raising alarms over BJP-controlled authorities’ home demolition projects in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.
BJP authorities say that the demolitions in Delhi are being carried out as part of a drive to raze illegally constructed homes to the ground, while in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, some Muslim homes were demolished in official retribution to alleged involvement in fuelling Hindu-Muslim riots seen at the Ram Navami festival on 10 April.
Besides Muslims, several Christian leaders in India have also expressed concerns over anti-religious conversion laws in states such as Karnataka.
The laws seek to criminalise the conversion of Hindus to other religions if such an action has been prompted through monetary or other inducements.
But opponents fear that Hindu nationalist groups may misuse the ban. Around 20 per cent of India's population, or 200 million citizens, practise a religion other than Hinduism, as per the last official Census in 2011.