Indian opposition accuses Modi of divisive rhetoric as religion sours polls

With India's mega-election underway, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is holding onto hope of seeing his ruling Hindu nationalist BJP win a third consecutive term. But ahead of the resumption of voting Monday, the opposition has accused India’s election watchdog of not doing enough to stop Modi's polarising claims.

The opposition India National Congress Party's complaints to the Election Commission were triggered by 74-year-old Modi's 21 April visit to Rajasthan state.

During the trip, Modi accused the Congress Party, led by Rahul Gandhi, of plotting to redistribute wealth of Hindus among Muslims – India’s single largest religious minority – if it came to power.

“You are talking in your manifesto of snatching gold ornaments,” Modi told a rally in the state's Banswara district.

Modi claimed that the Congress had said Muslims were "the rightful inheritors of the nation’s wealth".

Following the speech, Congress asked the electoral commission – that is charged with enforcing election rules to prevent parties promoting division based on religion, caste, or language in the multi-ethnic nation – to take action against Modi.

The party maintains his allegations were "divisive, malicious and targeted a particular religious community” and aimed to foment hostility.

His statements were “far worse than any other made by a sitting prime minister in the history of India,” the opposition also claimed.

The watchdog did not issue any rulings against Modi's party, but did ask for a response from BJP chief J.P. Nadda, to answer for the PM's divisive speech.


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