Indian poll verdict causes unease

May 17, 2014 - 2:39:30 am

DOHA: The Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance’s landslide victory in India’s general election has triggered concern among members of India’s religious minorities in Qatar. 

The Indian expatriates, most of whom are Muslims, fear that minority communities may suffer discrimination under the new government.

“Safety is a major concern among members of the minority communities. Minorities fear that a BJP-led government may take decisions against them because they will not need approval from any other party because of their majority. 

“There is a fear that the government will initially not do anything against minorities, but later may resort to something,” said Martin Xavier, managing director of Continental Cooling Company. 

“The other concern among minorities is that they may not get their due share in development because all the developmental policy will be focusing on the majority. They will not be interested in the welfare of the minorities in India,” he added.

Results for the 543 Lok Sabha seats were announced yesterday and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won 337 seats, not only far ahead of the halfway mark but also relishing a victory whose scale they had not anticipated. The BJP crossed the 272 mark comfortably on its own, without allies, winning 283 seats.

This is the biggest victory for one party since the 1984 election that Rajiv Gandhi won with 414 Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) seats. It is also the first time ever in the 67-year history of independent India that a non-Congress party has won a simple majority on its own.

“After the huge victory of the BJP, there is worry that members of the minority communities may be subject to bad treatment. The government should give some signals and take some steps to remove fear from the minds of minority community members,” said P N Baburajan. 

Expatriates believe that the election results show that voters were fed up with weak governance and wanted change. 

“People were looking for change and for strong leadership. The previous government failed to live up to the expectations of voters on all counts. The government did not provide good governance and there was also a lack of strong leadership,” said Baburajan. 

“Now we all hope that the new government will be able to give people good governance and strong leadership,” he added.

Due to the emphatic win, this is expected to be the strongest government at the centre since Rajiv Gandhi’s regime.

Dr Abdul Muttalib Siddiq, Managing Editor of Al Sharq Arabic newspaper, said the situation 10 years ago in India was different from the current situation. 

“I don’t agree with the talk of fear among minorities, especially Muslims, from this party because religious conflict in India is related to tension with Pakistan. The challenge 10 years ago in India was different because of continuous tensions with Pakistan, which was creating bitterness in Hindu-Muslim relations,” said Siddiq. “Today’s challenge before the government is of an economic nature. Narendra Modi’s promises before election were to fight corruption and ensure economic development,” he said. 

He added that Modi was aware that India’s economy is now strongly linked to the Arab economies and he might not like to mess with the current cordial relations of India with the countries in the Middle East. During his campaign he did not use any provocative remarks against any minority community.

“There are some people in the BJP who have extremist views and can create problems for the party. The BJP will have to ensure that such hate-mongers are sidelined and not given any important role in the government and in the party. If such elements spread hatred in society, the secular credentials of the NDA will come under scrutiny. There are positive and liberal leaders in the party and they should be given key positions in the party and the government,” said Mohamed Qutub, chairman, Friends Cultural Center. 

“I do not think the BJP-led government will work against any minority community,” he said.

He added that credit for BJP’s success belonged to the Congress party as its tenure was disappointing and voters decided to change the regime. 

“It is very difficult for a minority community to forget incidents that happened under the Modi-led government in Gujarat. Now there is a concern that after getting majority those incidents are not repeated,” said Mohamed Khaled, an Indian expatriate working as a recruitment coordinator in a multinational firm in Qatar. 

“We hope that the new government will work with an inclusive approach and focus on the progress of minorities in India. In his speech given yesterday, Narendra Modi said that he will work for the progress of all Indians, which is a positive sign. We hope that the majority for NDA will augur well for India as there will be a government which can take solid decisions,” he added.

“Muslims have so far not been able to digest this victory. Full majority to BJP may make the party go against minorities. Had it not got full majority there would have been some checks and balances on BJP in policymaking,” said Mohamed Habibun Nabee, president of the Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association. “However, we should respect the outcome of the election. The good thing is that Narendra Modi, in his speech, has said that he would take all Indians together,” he said.

M S Bukhari, who is in the construction business, said that he hoped the BJP was able to fulfil promises made during the campaign. 

“We hope that Narendra Modi is successful in delivering his promises. I think that he will not like to go against minorities because throughout his election campaign Modi focused mainly on economic growth,” said Bukhari. 

“But expatriates are disappointed that the BJP has ignored Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in its manifesto. NRIs are playing a crucial role in India’s development and they deserve the attention of the new government,” he said. 

“The BJP of the 1990s has transformed into a secular-minded party to woo the minorities. The electorate was forced to vote for a person who could save the people from the clutches of inflation, poverty, wrong governance, etc. Now, with the mandate given to the BJP-led NDA with Narendra Modi at the helm, we common Indians hope and trust to see good days, as publicised in the media,” said Rakesh Verma. 

“The scams like 2G, Commonwealth Games, etc. had damaged the credibility of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). The UPA constituent parties, like the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam, took advantage of the indifferent attitude of the prime minister to their corrupt practices that filled their party coffers,” he said.

He added that people in India would like to see work towards making India a corruption-free society, bringing down the prices of essential commodities, reducing fuel prices and bringing back black money stashed outside the country.The Peninsula

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