Two members of Indian Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s party—the Hindu nationalist BJP—have made inflammatory statements this week, bringing the party’s sectarian roots to the fore. First, a BJP candidate from Bihar said at a rally, “those who criticize Modi [meaning Muslims] … will have a place in Pakistan, not India.” Despite the ensuing outrage, the candidate has refused to take back his words.In another incident, the president of a Hindu nationalist organization was caught on camera explaining to a crowd how to prevent Muslims from buying property in Hindu areas. NDTV reports:
The footage from Bhavnagar shows Mr Togadia declaring, “Muslims have been buying Hindu properties at throwaway prices. How do you stop this?” As a solution, he offers, “You put pressure on the government to enforce the Disturbed Areas Act the way we have in cities like Ahmedabad.” The Disturbed Areas Act makes it tough to sell property to a member of the minority community in a neighbourhood to prevent communal tension and people who are in the minority from making distress sales.
Togadia made these remarks while addressing a crowd of people that had gathered outside a Muslim man’s house while calling for his eviction. The scene occurred in Modi’s home state of Gujarat, where riots claimed the lives of at least 1,000 people in 2002, most of them Muslims. Togadia belongs to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which, along with the BJP, forms a branch of the Hindu nationalist movement known as “Sangh Parivar.”Modi has struggled to distance himself from accusations that he did not do enough to quell the 2002 riots in Gujarat, where he was Chief Minister at the time. He has refused to apologize for the carnage that occurred on his watch, and last year compared his feelings for the Muslims who died to what he would feel for a puppy run over by a car. The BJP’s response to the public outcry following its candidates’ recent remarks has been half-hearted at best. Modi merely tweeted that both statements were “irresponsible.” We don’t think Muslim voters will find this a sufficient or convincing recantation.