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India: Hindu nationalist party makes big gains in elections

14 March 2017

Hindu nationalist party makes big gains in elections

The Hindu nationalist BJP party has won an overwhelming majority in a key Indian state in recent elections, leading to renewed concern about the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in the country. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took control of Uttar Pradesh state winning 225 seats out of a total 403 - the biggest majority seen there since 1980.

With a population of more than 222 million people, the northern state is India's most populous. If it were a separate country, it would be the fifth-largest by population in the world. The BJP, whose manifesto explicitly identifies India as a Hindu nation, also won overwhelming majority in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand (winning 56 out of 70 seats) as well as making an impressive performance in the state of Goa and Manipur.

Anti-conversion laws

Since the BJP came into power in 2014, radical Hinduism has increased steadily in India. On average, more than 15 Christians were physically attacked every week in India in 2016. India has risen to number 15 on the World Watch List - its highest ever ranking.

"The government has been trying to seize control of the education institutions, universities, and institutions that play a role in shaping culture and impacting intellectual discourses. This electoral success will embolden it to pursue this task with impunity," says an Open Doors source.

There are anti-conversion laws to prevent people from leaving Hinduism in five states, and there have been efforts to impose such a law at a national level.

"As a result of its increased strength in the upper house, the government will be in position to bring about legislation to enact an 'Anti-Conversion Law' at the national level, which would have a disastrous consequences for the mission efforts and the church growth in the country."

Agenda of Hindu fundamentalism

The latest election victories mean that some 65 per cent of Indian population is now under BJP government, both at union and state level. That means that it can continue to push a Hindu fundamentalist agenda for the country.

"The incidents of persecution of Christians are now likely to increase," says our Open Doors source. "The committed BJP supporters, emboldened by their own government in the state and the centre, will seek to implement their agenda on the ground more enthusiastically."

Please pray for the millions of Christian believers throughout India, as they they face an increasingly uncertain future.

Fast Food

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Source: Open Doors

Please pray:

  • That the government of India will uphold freedom of belief and not bring in anti-conversion laws
  • For protection for Christians in India as they continue to witness to their faith
  • For Open Doors partners in the country, providing support for victimised and traumatised believers.

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