Wednesday, May 20, 2009

005. India: Congress win is no grounds for complacency

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 005 | Wed 20 May 2009

A special Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin on the results of the India Lok Saba (Federal Parliament) elections, which includes comment on the Orissa State Assembly poll.


Christians around the world rejoiced with their Indian brethren on 16 May when learning that the Congress-led United People's Alliance (UPA) of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had been re-elected to rule Federally for another five years. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) undid their four years of Hindutva activism, through destructive communal violence in Orissa, reckless handling of the 26 November 2008 Mumbai terror attack and a very poor election campaign. While the BJP collected almost the same percentage of the vote as in the 2004 elections (dropping from 22.1 to 21.4 percent), Congress's percentage increased markedly (from 26.5 to 38 percent). The UPA now holds 262 of the Assembly's 542 seats -- only eleven short of a majority -- while the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) holds 159. In 2004 the UPA and NDA held 218 and 181 seats respectively.

The NDA had been gaining ground on the UPA in recent years to the point that in July 2008 the UPA government only narrowly survived a no-confidence vote moved against it by the BJP. Since its creation in 1980, the BJP has risen to become the second largest political party in India. The BJP's recent drubbing does not mean that Hindu nationalism is dead. The BJP ran a poor campaign. They proposed the elderly Hindutva ideologue LK Advani (82) as next Prime Minister when 70 percent of India is under 35. They publicly stood by controversial BJP candidate Varun Gandhi after he was arrested and charged over a virulent anti-Muslim speech. While Congress' Rahul Gandhi (38) exuded youth, positivity and national unity, the BJP's Narendra Modi exuded the opposite. Furthermore, opinion polls and several state polls clearly showed that the BJP lost significant ground after responding to the Mumbai terror attack with belligerent rhetoric and blame. It appears many voters were appalled that the BJP would seek to profit politically from the national tragedy and they were unsettled by the BJP's belligerent rhetoric when the UPA was successfully dealing with Pakistan and keeping war at bay through firm negotiations.

Congress appears to have collected the swinging votes as well as many votes that would normally have gone to minor and regional parties. It appears that flexible voters decided that in these days of regional insecurity and escalating terror, stable government was more important than anything else. But the BJP lost seats also. In the 'king-maker' state of Madhya Pradesh the BJP's representation dropped from 25 to 16 seats, with votes going instead to Congress. A similar trend was observed in Maharashtra of which Mumbai is the capital. It is supremely significant that the BJP failed to win a single federal seat in the violence-wracked Hindutva stronghold of Orissa (See . Clearly the majority of Orissa's Hindus have decided to eschew such shameful and destructive violence.

The situation in Orissa State is further relieved with the State Assembly poll (conducted alongside the Lok Saba poll) likewise leaving the BJP routed with only eight seats. Orissa will now be governed by the professed secular Biju Janata Dal (BJD) with 108 seats and an absolute majority. (A BJD - BJP coalition ruptured in March 2009.)

When the BJP lost power in the May 2004 Lok Saba election, the defeat shocked the Hindu nationalists into escalating their efforts to spread Hindutva for political gain. There is every reason to believe the same will be true this time with Hindu nationalists refining their strategies and redoubling their efforts to convert more youths. They will doubtless seek to groom younger, more suave, intelligent and modern Hindutva role models as well as elevating the status and living standards of converts.

By the grace and mercy of our prayer-hearing God, there is now another five-year opportunity for tackling Hindutva. The last five years of Congress-led UPA rule were marked by escalating anti-Christian rhetoric and violence with impunity and were a total waste in tackling Hindutva. We must pray that, rather than being complacent, the UPA will actively address Hindutva: exposing its violence and moral evil, its destructive communalism and its threat to India's development. Thouigh Hindu nationalism is being preached to tribals, it is of no benefit to them -- in fact the communalism and violence it triggers only causes grief, shame and destruction. Hindu nationalism is for the benefit of upper caste Hindus. The tribals are being deceived. With exposure Hindutva should implode.


* his merciful and gracious providence, through which -- in answer to the prayers of many -- he has frustrated the ways of the wicked (Psalm 146) and brought hope to his persecuted people.


* continue frustrating the ways of the wicked, for the sake of his Church in India.

* raise up Indian voices to expose the wickedness, lies and dangers of Hindutva so that the next five years are not wasted; may UPA politicians and supporters not be complacent.

* empower Christians that they too will reject complacency and resist self-sufficiency, being alert to dangers and active in advancing righteousness; may there prevail a culture of humble dependence on the Lord -- NOT politicians -- and prayer be the norm for all churches.

'Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. Blessed is he who help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.' (Psalm 146:3,5 ESV)



The Congress-led United People's Alliance of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has defeated the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and been re-elected to Federal rule for another five years. Furthermore, in the violence-wracked Hindutva stronghold of Orissa State, the BJP was totally routed in both the Federal poll and the simultaneous State Assembly poll! Reasons why the BJP lost and the Congress Party picked up so many new seats included the BJP's poor election campaign, their reckless response to the Mumbai terror attack, and the shame and destruction resulting from the violence in Orissa. Now Hindutva ideology must be exposed as morally wicked, dangerous and deceitful. Praise God for his merciful providence through the elections and pray for progress against Hindutva in India.