BJP wins the 2019 Rajasthan elections

The Indians elect a new parliament in seven stages between April 11th and May 19th. Christians and Muslims fear the re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP.

In Chhattisgarh, Christians are beaten up and Bibles desecrated, in Tamil Nadu they are forced to worship Hindu gods in a temple, and in Rajasthan, Hindu extremists throw stones at those attending a devotional. These are three of 29 anti-Christian cases that were documented in January of this year by the United Christian Forum and the Indian section of the international organization for religious freedom "Alliance Defending Freedom" (ADF).

Accusation of proselytizing

The attacks always followed the same pattern, according to the documentation. First Christians would be attacked. Then the police intervene and arrest priests on charges of proselytizing. The real perpetrators would get away with impunity. Paul Coleman, director of ADF International, said: "Although the right to religious freedom is protected by the Indian Constitution, Christians are subject to persecution and denied basic rights."

Violence against and discrimination against Christians and even more against Muslims are the hallmarks of the Modi government and its BJP. The BJP is the political arm of the Hindu extremist "National Volunteer Organization", whose goal is a Hindu god-state India.

For a long time a second term in office was considered certain. The loss of power of the BJP in elections in December 2018 in three important states in northern India showed two things: Modi and BJP are vulnerable and the Gandhi Nehru congress party, which has ruled with a few interruptions since independence, can under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi and his popular sister Priyanka win elections again.

Head-to-head between the BJP and the Congress Party

According to an analysis of the three elections by the office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in New Delhi, the introduction of the sales tax, the demonetization of the rupee and the slowing economic growth frustrate the voters in the rural and, because of their high population, voting-critical northern states. The voters there did not trust the BJP "to have a sustainable turnaround".

The BJP asked representatives of the minority religion at the beginning of March to submit suggestions for the election manifesto with the electoral failure in view. The Catholic Bishops' Conference called for confirmation of the "secular nature" of India and emphasized: "Diversity and not uniformity should be promoted."

The election will be a head-to-head race between the BJP and the center-left oriented Congress Party, predictors in New Delhi. The BJP is now wooing non-Hindus primarily with its business-friendly program and its security policy.

Conflict between Pakistan and Kashmir

Nevertheless, religion will play a central role in the election campaign. It will be decisive to what extent topics of radical Hindus, such as the construction of a Hindu temple on the site of the Babri Mosque of Ayodhya, which was destroyed by a Hindu nationalist mob, become part of the BJP's election campaign, according to the foundation's analysis.

Sister Concelia Baxla from the Missionaries of Charity was arrested in 2018, along with some of her fellow sisters, on charges of child trafficking. While the sisters were released on bail, Baxla has been in custody for more than 220 days. For Bishop Theodor Mascarenhas, General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference, the nun is another victim of a political campaign to damage the image of the Church.

The conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir will also play a dominant role. Modi responded to the terrorist attack by Islamist terrorists from Islamic Pakistan in the Indian part of Kashmir in February with attacks by the Indian air force on targets in Pakistan. In late March, Modi also demonstrated military strength by testing an anti-satellite missile that destroyed an Indian satellite.