Wednesday, October 2, 2013

RLPB 230. India: BJP pursues votes in Uttar Pradesh

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 230 | Wed 02 Oct 2013

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By Elizabeth Kendal

Though 74 percent Hindu, India is officially a secular nation. High-caste Hindus are challenging this and are determined to preserve the power and privilege guaranteed them through the systematic racism of the Hindu 'caste' system. They are striving to secure majority power at the federal level so they can change the constitution and declare India a Hindu State. Traditionally they have created fear-mongering by demonising Muslims and Christians as threats to national security. They aim to dragnet the Hindu vote by offering Hindu nationalism as the solution to the existential dangers within -- separatism and terrorism -- and without -- cultural invasion. They persuade traditionally-animist, indigenous tribal Indians to convert to Hinduism and join the 'Hindu mainstream' to help fight the enemy. India's 172.5 million, often reactionary Muslims (the largest Muslim minority in the world), are being wooed today for their vote and Christians alone are being demonised. During its two terms (10 years) in power, the Congress Party led United Progressive Alliance government has done nothing at all to counter Hindu nationalist propaganda. Consequently, sectarianism and violent persecution has escalated on its watch.

On 13 September a Hindu nationalist mob in the south-western state of Karnataka ambushed Sannamma (50), a Christian woman. After beating her to the ground and kicking her, they dragged her to a nearby Hindu temple where they poured water over her, forcibly applied a red dot to her forehead and tried to coerce her to convert back to Hinduism. Under great duress, Sannamma (a believer for eight years) signed a document stating that she and her husband, Shidda Naik (members of The Glorious Church), would not spread the Christian message. In an attack that lasted six hours they then dragged her out of the temple and marched her around the village, slapping and abusing her continuously. Eventually her sister-in-law rescued her. Though hospitalised with internal injuries, Sannamma told Morning Star News, 'What I am suffering is nothing compared to what my Lord Jesus has suffered. I will love him forever for giving me a new life.' Appalling attacks like this are commonplace in India, occurring on a daily basis. If anyone is ever charged, it is usually the Christian.

India's next federal election will be held during April-May 2014. In mid-September the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) anointed Gujarat Chief Minister Nahendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. To shift attention away from his image as a sectarian figure and rabid Hindu nationalist, Modi is exploiting Gujarat's massive development and marketing himself as India's most successful pro-business administrator -- an economic 'saviour' who will lift all Indians out of poverty. At a BJP rally in Gujarat on 17 September some 40,000 Muslims were persuaded to join the party. At a rally in New Delhi on Sunday 29 September the charismatic Modi spoke to a crowd of more than 200,000 who responded to his lofty promises with 'frenzied' excitement. It was, writes Sanjay Singh, 'a public rally, the likes of which it had not seen in many decades.'

From 1 October to mid-November Modi will be campaigning in Uttar Pradesh, India's strategic heartland and the home of Hinduism. Nine mega-rallies are being planned. The population of this northern state is 80.6 percent Hindu, 18.5 percent Muslim and around 0.1 percent Christian. It is India's most populous state, accounting for a massive 80 parliamentary seats. Writing in The Australian (18 September) Amanda Hodge expresses the prevailing view: 'After the Congress Party-led government's disastrous second term -- five years marred by corruption on a grand scale, parliamentary paralysis and sharp economic decline -- the BJP should sail into power.'


* protect, bless and sustain his precious Church in the face of militant Hindu nationalism, praying especially for Christians in Uttar Pradesh as Nahendra Modi campaigns there over the next six weeks. 'Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings' (Psalm 17:8 ESV)

* expose lies and malicious intentions, so that Indians are not seduced by offers of economic advancement to vote for a party that will perpetuate the systematic racism of caste and enslave them as second class citizens. 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.' (John 1:5 ESV)

* raise up honourable leaders who will lead India with integrity and wisdom, doing what God calls leaders to do: 'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.' (Proverbs 31:8,9 NIV)


Despite holding power for 10 years, the Congress Party led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has done absolutely nothing to counter the Hindu nationalist propaganda driving the violent persecution of Christians in India. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has anointed Gujarat Chief Minister Nahendra Modi to be its prime ministerial candidate in the April-May 2014 federal general elections. A high-caste hard-line Hindu supremacist, Modi is campaigning on a pro-development platform, capitalising on Gujarat's massive development and on the Congress Party government's failures. Many analysts believe the BJP is well on track to win the 2014 elections. For the next six weeks, Modi will lead rallies in Uttar Pradesh (UP). Pray that Indians will not be deceived. Please pray for Christians in UP as Hindu nationalist zeal flourishes.


Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)