03/17/2014, 00.00
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Indian activist: Narendra Modi’s candidature in Varanasi an outrage

by Nirmala Carvalho
The chief minister of Gujarat and leader of the nationalists (Bharatiya Janata Party) has chosen the seat of the sacred city to take part in general elections 2014. According to Lenin Raghuvanshi, it is an attempt to "show Varanasi as the birthplace of the Hindu fundamentalism". He tells AsiaNews : "The city is steeped in pluralism and secularism. Its people struggle against all forms of religious extremism".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The announcement of the candidacy of Narendra Modi in Varanasi "has once again raised the idea that Varanasi is the 'cradle ' of the Hindu fundamentalism. This is an insult to the people of Varanasi and the city itself: the history of this place belies such propaganda". This is the reaction of Lenin Raghuvanshi, Secretary General of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), to the decision of Modi, chief minister of Gujarat and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Hindu ultra-nationalists) candidate for prime minister to run for the seat of Varanasi in the 2014 general elections.

From a Brahmin family, the human rights activist, who is agnostic and works in Varanasi, in particular with the Dalits tells AsiaNews "Varanasi has always been steeped in pluralism and secularism and many people are working to put an end to the caste system and all forms of religious fundamentalism".

In fact, the city's history speaks for itself. "This place - says Raghuvanshi - is known as the city of Shiva, but it has been discussed whether it is the original brahminical deity, or if the deity was exploited to ensure the spread of Brahmanism. Again it was here that Buddha gave his first sermon in 528 BC. It is one of the holy cities of Jainism, and one of the epicenters of the Bhakti movement (a current dating back to Hindu medieval times very close to Sufi Islam, ed.) guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism, visited Varanasi in 1507 and was inspired by the city".

"The PVCHR is not a political movement - says its general secretary - but we are against those nationalist forces that use violence". Forces such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the paramilitary arm of the BJP, the author of numerous attacks against ethnic, social and religious India minorities". MS Gowalkar, the founder of the RSS - he recalls - never hid his esteem for Hitler and Mussolini. He described India as a 'purely Hindu' nation and considered the Muslims as second class citizens".

Narendra Modi was active in the RSS, and is considered responsible for not having put a stop to the 2002 violence in Gujarat, the deadly clashes between Hindus and Muslims.

"Over the last few decades - says Raghuvanshi - religious minorities in India have suffered waves of organized violence, which put our secular democracy in grave danger. Attacks against Islamic and Christian communities are increasingly used as a political tool by the Hindu nationalist and fundamentalist forces".

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