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Sculptor Anish Kapoor and writer Salman Rushdie are among those who have signed a letter to the Guardian warning that, if Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, “it would bode ill for India's future”. The chief minister of Gujarat belongs to the far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“Without questioning the validity of India's democratic election process, it is crucial to remember the role played by the Modi government in the horrifying events that took place in Gujarat in 2002. The Muslim minority were overwhelmingly the victims of pillage, murder and terror, resulting in the deaths of more than 2,000 men, women and children,” the letter stated.
It pointed out that “Women, in particular, were subjected to brutal acts of violence and were left largely unprotected by the security forces. Although some members of Narendra Modi's government are now facing trial, Modi himself repeatedly refuses to accept any responsibility or to render an apology.”
In their view, “Such a failure of moral character and political ethics on the part of Modi is incompatible with India's secular constitution, which, in advance of many constitutions across the world, is founded on pluralist principles and seeks fair and full representation for minorities. Were he to be elected Prime Minister, it would bode ill for India's future as a country that cherishes the ideals of inclusion and protection for all its peoples and communities.”
Other signatories included academics Homi Bhabha, Jacqueline Bhabha, Jayati Ghosh and Chetan Bhatt, barrister and peer Helena Kennedy, artists Vivan Sundaram and Ram Rahman and film directors Deepa Mehta, Kumar Shahani and MK Raina.
Earlier, the Times of India had reported that over two hundred academics, artists and intellectuals from across the country had signed a joint appeal to voters in the parliamentary election “to foil this corporate-communal alliance's bid for power”, which “constitutes a palpable threat to the future of our secular democracy."
They warned of political forces “led by a person who presided over a pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and has never expressed any contrition over his role in that ghastly incident. And they enjoy the backing of the most powerful corporate houses in the country."
Those who issued the joint statement included Harbans Mukhia, D N Jha, Badri Raina, Irfan Habib, K M Shrimali, Jayanti Ghosh and Zoya Hasan.
A victory for a right-wing extremist with this track record would be bad news indeed, in India and beyond.
© Savitri Hensman is a widely published Christian commentator on politics, welfare, religion and more. An Ekklesia associate, she works in the equalities and care sector.Tweet