03/11/2017, 15.22
INDIA
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Modi wins in Uttar Pradesh

Vote counting began this morning. The latest update indicates he won 305 seats out of 403. The election is a referendum on the prime minister's policies, following demonetisation. Christian leader expresses concern about the aggressive policies of the Hindu nationalists.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, is on its way to a landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh.

Vote counting began this morning at 8 am (local time). The latest update points to a huge BJP majority with 305 seats out of 403.

If this is confirmed, it would be the most important political achievement for the Indian prime minister, who continues to be popular despite the recent demonetisation of certain rupee denominations, which devastated rural areas and the poor.

Reacting to the result, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told AsiaNews that "The day of the saffron has dawned on India”.

“Secularism,” he noted, “has a new meaning or understanding in our democratic and secular India. With the BJP’s victory, our tiny and vulnerable Christian minority will be subjected to the unjustified bitter wrath [of Hindu radicals]."

Elections were held in five states: Goa, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh. Most attention focused on the latter, India’s most populous. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personalised the vote, taking the lead in the election campaign and using all of his influence in support of his party’s candidates.

Early on, experts stressed that the vote would be a referendum on Modi, especially after his decision to demonetise some denominations to fight counterfeiting and corruption.

Yet, despite criticism from all sides because of the harsh impact on the most vulnerable classes of Indian society, he has not changed his economic policy. In fact, he said that demonetisation would help the poor of Uttar Pradesh that voted for him.

However, the GCIC president is concerned about the implications of the victory of Hindu nationalists. "Dalits and tribal Christians will continue to be caught in a double discrimination. Hindu extremists will continue to convert them to Hinduism, i.e. bring them home. Still, the GCIC continues to hope in constitutional guarantees. "

For Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, "Individualism or individual heroism are not a political response. The politics of divide-and-rule has become institutionalised in our country.”

“Sectarian decisions divide the poor majority and are promoted by business leaders to hide fiscal policies based on impunity designed to make India an attractive country for foreign investment. This only enriches business and political leaders."

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)

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