New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - The main opposition party in India, the "Bharatiya Janata Party" (BJP), a markedly nationalist formation that contends the government of the country and the Congress Party and was in power in India in the period 1999-2004, has chosen the controversial leader Narendra Modi as candidate for Premier in the upcoming general elections to be held in 2014. The choice of Modi, currently Prime Minister of the state of Gujarat, is the result of a heated debate even within the party: the 62-year old leader, in fact, is known as an advocate of an ideology of "Hindu religious nationalism, supporter of extremist Hindu formation, responsible for the violence and massacres in India carried out yesterday and today. In Gujarat, many remember, Modi did little to stop the riots between Hindus and Muslims in 2002, when hundreds of Muslims were killed. The announcement of Modi’s candidacy officially opens the election season in India, although there are no polls until April or May 2014.
The Catholic Church and many other Indian civil society organizations that work for inter-religious harmony, coexistence and pluralism, express their disappointment. According to Fr. Charles Irudayam, Secretary of the Commission "Justice and Peace" of the Episcopal Conference of India, interviewed by Fides Agency, "the choice is a political suicide of the BJP" because "most of Indian citizens do not endorse the confrontational approach and the 'communitarianism' advocated by Modi".
"All those who support a secular state, based on the concept of citizenship, human rights and justice, will not support him", the priest told Fides. "The BJP has focused again on a nationalist agenda, which exploits religion. They want to attract young people and all sectors of the Hindu society. But I think that, as happened for example in the state of Karnataka, this strategy does not work.
"As Catholic Church - said Fr. Irudayam - we will continue to work for harmony and for the good of the country, without incurring any political party, but by working for justice and the rights of all, especially for the poorest and most disadvantaged". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 17/09/2013)