The district of Muzaffarnagar, 80 miles north of Delhi, is still reeling from riots that killed 40 people and gravely injured many more this weekend. Thousands of police officers patrol the streets and curfew is strict.The details of the chaos are still emerging. The authorities claim that after two Hindu youths were killed two weeks ago, a provocative video purporting to show them being lynched went viral. The video turned out to be fake, but it didn’t matter. 5,000 farmers gathered on Saturday to demand that something be done about the killings, and several local politicians gave speeches to the crowd, including 4 members of the BJP, the most powerful opposition party in the national parliament.These politicians are now under investigation by the police for inciting anti-Muslim hatred and urging the farmers to violence. The politicians deny those accusations and top BJP leaders instead put the blame on the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, an ally of the Congress party. The chief minister, they say, allowed communal tension to build up in the district and did nothing to protect the people.Communal violence on this scale is rare in India, though smaller incidents happen all the time. “Among India’s states,” the New York Times reports, “Uttar Pradesh has had the highest number of deaths from religious violence in the past three years — 73 killed in 323 outbreaks, according to government statistics. Two thousand such episodes were recorded throughout the country during that period.” Compared to Pakistan, where religious violence seems to be on display every week, India looks a thousand times more peaceful—and in fact it is.Nevertheless, the fact that BJP officials are allegedly involved in this ugliness makes this story of particular importance to American readers. This week the BJP is expected to unveil Narendra Modi as its candidate for prime minister for next year’s elections. The US government still refuses to allow Modi to visit because of his role in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in which hundreds were killed. But with the economy in shambles and the Congress-led government mired in corruption scandals, the BJP is riding a wave of momentum and has a chance to make big gains in parliament. The US should start planning for the uncomfortable possibility of a Prime Minister Modi and an Indian parliament led by a strong BJP.