ASIA/INDIA - Narendra Modi's party loses votes: "Pluralism and democracy are guaranteed"

Wednesday, 5 June 2024 politics   democracy   human rights   religious minorities  

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New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, won a majority in the parliamentary elections just concluded in India, but by a narrow margin compared to the victory predicted by polls and analysts. According to the final results, the BJP, which received the most votes in the country, will not have an absolute majority in Parliament (the Lok Sabha, with 543 seats), will not be able to govern alone and will therefore need the support of allied groups. As confirmed by the Election Commission, the party obtained a total of 240 seats, 62 fewer than in 2019. This is less than the 272 seats required for a parliamentary majority. With its partners in the "National Democratic Alliance", the coalition has 292 seats and can form a majority government for the next five years under the leadership of Narendra Modi, who is entering his third term as president. The center-left opposition coalition, the "Inclusive Alliance for India's National Development" (acronym "India"), received more than 230 seats. The 25-party alliance ran together against the BJP coalition for the first time. The main party in the "India" coalition, the Congress Party, won 99 seats, doubling its 2019 result, when it won 46 seats. The Socialist Party (SP), on the other hand, will have 37 MPs, while it had no representatives in the previous legislative period. "These results, which preserve democracy and pluralism, have come about thanks to the tireless and selfless efforts of many people at all levels of civil society across the country and they should be welcomed as they do not give anyone the opportunity to implement unconstitutional projects," comments Ahmedabad-based Indian Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash. "Indian civil society will continue to fight corruption, inter-religious hatred, polarization and manipulation of society by money and mass media or by entities subordinate to nationalist politics," said the Jesuit. "The goal of social action is to strive for truth, justice and love. Now is the time for meaningful assessment, serious introspection and careful planning so that all healthy sections of society can work together to ensure that the values enshrined in our Constitution are protected and remain an indispensable heritage for the people of India," concludes Father Prakash. For the estimated 28 million Christians on the Indian subcontinent, criteria and values such as religious freedom and the secularism of the state remain fundamental to the preservation of the world's largest democracy. Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party has been in power since 2014. Since then, the past decade has seen repeated incidents of violence, discrimination and harassment against religious minorities, especially Christians and Muslims. Extremist Hindu groups, emboldened by the ideology of "Hindu supremacy" ("Hindutva"), have committed abuses ranging from physical assaults to false accusations of forced religious conversions. There is now hope that the BJP will correct course towards a more inclusive policy that guarantees civil rights to the country's more than 200 million Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 5/6/2024)