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Indian opposition fury as Modi rails at Muslim ‘infiltrators’ on election campaign trail

INDIAN opposition figures have united to condemn Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he attacked Muslim citizens as “infiltrators” in an incendiary speech.

Complaints have been filed with the Election Commission over the speech, since electoral rules ban candidates from provoking religious tensions.

Speaking in Rajasthan on Sunday, Mr Modi railed that when Congress — the biggest opposition party, which led most governments from 1947-2014 — was in power “they said Muslims have the first right over the country’s resources,” and that if it is returned to office it “will gather all your wealth and distribute it among those who have more children... distribute it among infiltrators.

“Do you think your hard-earned money should be given to infiltrators?”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the prime minister’s words amounted to “hate speech” as India’s weeks-long general election gets underway.

“In the history of India, no prime minister has lowered the dignity of his post as much as Modi has,” he added.

The Congress is part of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (India), a coalition of 41 parties, including the Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which have joined forces on the grounds that Mr Modi’s Hindu chauvinist BJP is dismantling India’s democratic system.

This year’s election is the most important in India’s history, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said on Monday, because “the nature of India as a secular democratic republic faces an existential threat.”

Mr Yechury said that “if Modi is returned [to office], the constitution will be virtually disregarded, because this is the only way a secular democratic republic can be converted into a rabidly intolerant, authoritarian, fascistic Hindu rashtra” (rashtra, meaning “nation” in Sanskrit, has become an Indian nationalist term for the sort of state the BJP pursues, analogous to the term “reich” in Nazi Germany).

The CPI-M has already filed repeated complaints to the Election Commission over speeches in which Mr Modi has accused his opponents of “insulting Lord Rama,” the supreme being in a major current of Hinduism.

Hindus make up 80 per cent of India’s 1.4 billion people, with Muslims the largest religious minority with 14 per cent, or 200 million people. Persecution of Muslims and other minorities has intensified under Mr Modi’s 10-year rule. 

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