Outrage as India's Modi, in quest for votes, calls Muslims 'infiltrators'

Modi and his far-right affiliates have criticized Muslims for their higher birth rates and invoked false claims that India's Muslim population would overtake that of its majority Hindus. (Photo/Reuters)

India's main opposition Congress party has filed a complaint to the country's Election Commission accusing Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "blatantly targeting" minority Muslims in a campaign speech.

In its complaint to the Election Commission on Monday, the Congress party said the "divisive, objectionable and malicious" comments were targeted at "a particular religious community" and amounted to "blatant and direct violations of electoral laws".

They were "far worse than any ever made by a sitting Prime Minister in the history of India", the complaint said.

Congress party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters outside the Commission's office: "We hope concrete action will be taken."

Modi, who is seeking a rare third consecutive term, referred to Muslims as "infiltrators" and "baby producers" during a campaign speech on Sunday, drawing widespread criticism from opposition groups and human rights groups.

Modi falsely claimed a previous congress government had said that "Muslims have the first right over the nation's wealth".

He said if congress won "it will be distributed among those who have more children [Muslims]. It will be distributed to the infiltrators."

"Do you think your hard-earned money should be given to infiltrators? Would you accept this?" Critics said the phrases were references to Muslims.

Despite Modi — born on September 17, 1950 to Damodardas Mulchand Modi and Heeraben Modi — being the third eldest among six siblings, his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party [and now the PM himself] has often falsely claimed that Muslims have higher birth rates.

Targeting Muslims and opponents

Under election laws, the Election Commission can ask a party or its leader to respond to a complaint, issue advisories cautioning them or prohibit them from campaigning for a specified period, or launch a criminal case against repeat offenders.

Modi and his BJP are widely expected to coast to victory in India's marathon elections, which began last Friday and with the results due on June 4.

Earlier this year, Modi presided over the inauguration of a grand temple to the deity Ram, built on the site of a centuries-old mosque razed by Hindu zealots.

The BJP has frequently invoked the temple on the campaign trail.

BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia told reporters on Monday that Modi was calling "a spade a spade" and his remarks resonated with what people thought.

BJP and its far-right affiliates have criticised Muslims for their higher birth rates and invoked false claims that India's Muslim population would overtake that of its majority Hindus.

India has a population of 1.42 billion people, with some 80 percent Hindus. The estimated 200 million Muslims make up the world's third-largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan.

Analysts have long expected Modi to triumph against a fractious alliance of more than two dozen parties that have yet to name a candidate for prime minister.

His prospects have been further bolstered by several criminal probes into his opponents and a tax investigation this year that froze the bank accounts of Congress.

Modi's tenure has seen India overtake former colonial ruler Britain as the world's fifth-biggest economy, and Western nations lining up to court a prospective ally against regional rival China.

His rule has seen brazen attacks against minorities — particularly Muslims — from hate speech to lynchings. India's democracy, critics say, is faltering as the press, political opponents and courts face growing threats. And Modi has increasingly blurred the line between religion and state.


Source: TRT