Bihar’s electorate has sent Prime Minister Narendra Modi a message: Put an end to hatemongering, said the influential New York Times on Tuesday in an editorial. Here are the top 10 things The New York Times had to say on Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP):
1. As prime minister, he has yet to deliver big economic improvements, but in the meantime, members of his government and political party have shredded his promise of inclusion by inflaming sectarian tensions.
2. Now, voters in the country’s third most populous state have sent Modi a message: Put an end to the hatemongering.
3. Poisoning politics with religious hatred is bound to squander the country’s economic potential at a time when India should be playing a bigger and more constructive role in South Asia and the world.
4. India’s history is filled with examples of religious and caste-based violence that set the country back. Those conflicts subsided during India’s rapid economic growth, but many Indians now fear a resurgence.
5. The BJP lawmakers pushed for beef bans around the country ostensibly to protect the cow, which many Hindus consider holy, but really as a ploy to divide Hindus and Muslims, some of whom eat beef.
6. Mobs riled by the anti-beef crusade have killed four Muslims suspected of slaughtering, stealing or smuggling cows in the last seven weeks. And in August, unidentified attackers shot and killed Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, a scholar and vocal critic of Hindu idolatry. Hundreds of writers, filmmakers and academics have protested the growing intolerance by returning awards they received from the government-supported bodies.
7. Modi has not forcefully condemned the beef-related killings, despite pleas by Muslims and other minorities. He has tolerated hateful and insensitive remarks by his ministers and by BJP officials.
8. Modi tried to exploit sectarian divisions by telling voters that the secular alliance would reduce affirmative action benefits for lower-caste Hindus and tribes in favour of ‘a particular community’ – an apparent reference to Muslims.
9. BJP president Amit Shah, one of Modi’s closest advisers, told voters that a victory for the alliance would be celebrated in Pakistan, the Muslim-majority neighbour that has fought several wars with India since 1947.
10. Voters in Bihar saw through the BJP’s attempts to divide them. They, like most Indians, are looking for leaders who will improve their standard of living. Bihar is one of the poorest states in India but has grown fast in the last 10 years under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is credited for cracking down on crime, building roads and increasing the enrollment of girls in schools.