The Largest Election in the History of the Largest Democracy in the World
The longest and most expensive election in India's history began April 7th and will conclude May 12th at a cost of more than $5 billion. To manage the large electorate -- estimated at 815 million -- and address security concerns in the world's largest democracy, the election to seat 543 members of the 16th Lok Sabha, or lower house of the Parliament, is running in nine segments over five weeks. The results will also determine who will rule the world’s largest democracy as prime minister. The victor will ultimately be the party winning the most Lok Sabha seats, a minimum of 272.
Top issues in India’s elections are perennial -- government corruption, nepotism and economic growth -- but also playing a major factor is the burgeoning Islamization of the country. The bulk of India's population, around 80% Hindu, is concerned about past government policies that appear to have favored Muslims. The most popular candidate for prime minister, Narendra Modi, has been painted for years as virulently anti-Muslim in an effort to undermine his political power during years of dedicated government service as Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat. He has been the subject of eight-years of rigorous investigations and most recently by India’s Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), which found no wrong doing on his part, and he has been legally exonerated of all framed charges in 2010. Yet, he has been denied a U.S. visa, despite this lack of proof. The outcome of the elections in India will help determine if the country will slide further under Muslim influence or pursue a path toward democracy and away from preferential laws for Muslims.
Those preferential laws were created under the rule of the Indian National Congress (INC), or “the Congress.” Formed in 1885, the party played a major role in freeing the country from British colonial rule in 1947. But, in more modern times, the pro-Muslim Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, has lost support. As the economic growth of India has slowed significantly, government corruption has become rampant and infrastructure deficiencies abound. Modi, a statesman of the country’s other major political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has pledged to institute good governance, end corruption, boost economic growth, and adopt a uniform civil code to foster equal gender justice and equality for Indian Muslim women who are currently governed by Sharia law.
Modi and Gujarat Riots
Although he is clearly the popular favorite for prime minister, Modi must contend with fallout from ongoing Hindu-Muslim strife in India. A major cause of that strife was the defunct Babri Mosque, which was provocatively built by Muslims in 1527 over a Hindu sacred site in Ajodhya believed to be the birthplace of the Hindu Deity, Rama. A study released later by the Archaeological Society of India concluded that excavations revealed distinctive features of a massive, 10th century Hindu temple and the existence of human activity at the site as early as the 13th century B.C. (The violent conversion of non-Muslims’ places of worship into mosques is common worldwide and there is historically documented evidence that at least 2000 mosques in India have been forcibly built on top of demolished Hindu temples at sacred sites). (See Chapter 10 and Appendix of this online book at this link: http://www.voiceofdharma.com/books/htemples1/ )
Conflicts over the Ajodhya site occurred numerous times over the years and culminated in 1992 with the razing of the abandoned mosque structure by a gathering of over 1.1 million Hindu volunteers who had assembled there for a rally. Violence then broke out across India and more than 2,000 people died, as Muslims used the demolition of Babri Mosque as an excuse for ongoing terrorist attacks ever since.
Ten years later in early 2002, during a pre-planned terror attack at Godhra train station in Gujarat, a mob of 1500 armed Muslims, led by their co-religionist leaders of the Congress party, had looted and locked down a train filled with unsuspecting Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya and set the women-only passenger carriage on fire, murdering 59 Hindus, mostly women and children. In the aftermath of this gruesome massacre, there were subsequent attacks by triumphalist Muslim mobs against Hindu civilians in several other cities. In spite of robust efforts by the police and army to quell violence some riots between Hindus and Muslims ensued for less than 72 hours before subsiding completely.
Modi, who had just begun serving his first year as chief minister of Gujarat while simultaneously dealing with the aftermath of a deadly 2001 earthquake (that killed around 20,000 people, injured 167,000 and destroyed nearly 400,000 homes in his state), was falsely accused by his political opponents of encouraging the violence or turning a blind eye to the incident. Their contrived allegations were a potent mix of Goebbelsian propaganda that involved exaggerating the number of Muslim victims, ignoring the large numbers of Hindu victims (who constituted a third of the casualties) and fabricating witnesses with the malicious intent of making Modi the political scapegoat for the violence. Despite being cleared by a state court and the Indian Supreme Court in 2010 of any blame for the 2002 riots in Gujarat, where he still serves as chief minister, Modi continues to be refused a visa by the United States since 2005 due to lobbying by Islamic, Leftist and Christian conservative groups. Thus, he has been effectively banned from the United States, a ban supported by the current pro-Muslim Indian government.
The U.S. visa ban has made Modi, who has since been threatened with assassination and subject to slanderous attacks, more popular in India. He is admired for his leadership in providing relief and rebuilding following the earthquake that devastated the Kutch region of India. He is also credited for economic growth in his state of Gujarat.
If elected, it is hoped he will pursue the agenda of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), a national patriotic organization of which he is a member and which pledges to uphold Indian culture and values. RSS goals include the rebuilding of the Ram Temple, protection of cows -- sacred for Hindus -- from rustling and slaughter, and the revoking of Article 370 of the India constitution. That law grants special autonomous status to the Muslim majority states of Jammu and Kashmir.
Continuing Attacks against Modi
Popular with the Hindu majority, Modi has nonetheless been heavily maligned as being "communal," a “Hindu fundamentalist,” or a “racist.” These descriptors are bandied about for Modi much the way that conservatives, especially Christians, are falsely labeled and harangued in the United States. Reminiscent of the attacks on Jews and their quest to return to their ancestral land of over 4,000 years or “Zionism,” RSS goals are risibly compared to Nazi ideology. The sting of fundamentalism taints Hindu groups, although Hindus have never engaged in anything resembling a jihad (or Crusade) to spread their religion as the only true or righteous faith. Yet, appearing as a "proud Muslim" is deemed innocuously inoffensive and termed "secular." In fact, "secularism" in India has come to serve as a euphemism for "anti-Hindu," pro-Muslim and pro-Christian.
Adding to the current tense political climate, statistics on India’s religious population from the 2011 census, have been purposely withheld until after the election for fear of sparking riots. Hindu leaders and demographic pundits opine that the Hindu population of the country has fallen below 80% and the Muslim population has increased to close to 20% as a result of unbridled birth rates of the latter.
Meanwhile, U.S. government officials, masquerading as proponents of religious freedom, have attempted to influence the Indian election by undermining Modi’s candidacy with false accusations of Hindu-perpetuated violence. Two congressmen introduced H.R. 417, a bill to require India to create a government watchdog body made up of Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, and Zoroastrians to insure that minorities are provided with special protections, such as their own minority courts designed to redress their particular grievances. This appears to be a veiled invitation for shariah since Muslim interests tend to bulldoze the interests of other minorities in India.
These two congressmen have strong ties to Islam. Keith Hakim Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, swore his oath of office on a Koran, and has addressed meetings of Hamas-linked CAIR whose members have made individual donations to his campaign. Congressman Joseph Pitts was in the news for receiving campaign contributions from Ghulan Nabi Fai – a lobbyist funneling money from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Pakistani intelligence service accused of aiding and abetting Islamic terrorist groups worldwide. The FBI indictment cleared Pitts of any wrongdoing, as he was unaware of the source of Fai’s funding.
Ellison and Pitts’ proposed legislation also calls for the Indian government to focus specifically on Hindu-perpetuated violence; although 80% of attacks in 2013 were attributed to Indian Mujahideen (Islamic terrorists) and the rest to other Islamic and Maoist terror groups. And the bill would continue the current visa ban for Modi.
The sudden and mysterious emergence of the well-funded candidate, Arvind Kejriwal, a member of the fledgling, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which he created in 2012, has raised suspicions among political pundits. Kejriwal is believed to be funded by the CIA through the Ford Foundation, which issued a significant grant to his NGO, Kabir. (A declassified letter from 1957 signed by then CIA Director Allen Dulles establishes the link between the CIA and the Ford Foundation).
While still a public servant, Kejriwal was granted $80,000 and $250,000, respectively, by the Ford Foundation, which is illegal. In 2006, he received money from the World Bank as well as the Ford Foundation-conferred Magsaysay Award. In addition, the Washington, D.C.-based Association of Indian Muslims of America, which has been raising funds and issuing advertisements for his party, is represented by its Executive Director Kaleem Kawaja whose article Brother, Can you spare a tear for Taliban is in contrast to his day-job as a NASA employee.
Kejriwal, who has courted the Muslim vote, received praise from the Pakistani media and online contributions from Pakistan to his AAP. Kejriwal has taken a decidedly anti-India stand on the Kashmir conflict, a dispute between India and Pakistan over control of the Kashmir region where Muslims live under separate laws and Hindus are not allowed to purchase land or property. Kejriwal has also called for clemency for the convicted Mumbai massacre terrorist, Ajmal Kasab. Kejriwal, and his supporters were recently detained by Gujarat police after attempting to disrupt the BJP office, with stone throwing and property destruction. In 2011, Kejriwal met with Imam Tauqueer Raza Khan, who issued a 2006 fatwa to behead U.S. President George W. Bush and feminist author Taslima Nasreen for espousing women’s rights. As the AAP candidate, Kejriwal has spoken against "communalism" or Hindu nationalism and referred to it as a greater threat than government corruption. His fellow AAP leader, Shazia Ilmi, a female Muslim TV news anchor, has been recorded on a video just this week at a political meeting inciting Muslims to be more “communal” (fundamentalist) and less secular.
These would seem to be the personal political views of individual candidates were it not for the growing Islamization of India. National security is a major concern with a significant increase in Islamic terrorist cells, including Al Qaeda, and a commensurate increase in attacks against Hindus and Hindu holy sites. The borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh have become less secure as more and more Muslims from both countries enter illegally to rape and kidnap Hindu women, commit cross-border attacks and beheadings of Indian soldiers, and rustle and/or slaughter cattle.
Remarkably, at least 20 million Muslims entering India from Pakistan and Bangladesh have managed to vote illegally in Indian elections; some even running for office with the assistance of Muslim-appeasing politicians. The majority of India's citizens worry about the corruption among the police, intelligence and military, mostly in the form of concessions to Muslims to win vote banks, and how this has made it difficult to maintain law and order and adequately protect Hindus. Many Indian citizens want the discriminatory Communal Violence Bill, believed to have been part of a strategy to win Muslim votes, rescinded because it specifically targets Hindus, under the guise of protecting minorities. Hindus contend that the current Muslim-appeasing government has not adequately prosecuted the horrific 2008 Mumbai attack as part of a concerted plan to retain Muslim block votes.
Hindus see the growing Islamization of their country aided by pro-Islamist government policies, changing demographics due to higher Muslim birthrates, polygamy, and illegal immigration among Muslims, as well as dawah or proselytizing and forced conversions to Islam. As politicians in Muslim majority areas seek election, they appeal to the Muslim community with special programs and concessions. They typically grant approval to build new mosques, institute job preference quotas, and provide IDs, citizenship certificates, and entitlement payments to Muslims and even engineer the release of Muslim prisoners.
In India, civil codes exist that favor Muslims so that laws are not applied equally to all citizens. Currently, Muslims receive government grants and enjoy complete freedom to manage their religious institutions. The Indian government funds annual trips to Mecca or the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage for tens of thousands of Muslims. By contrast, the government drains Hindu temples of all their pilgrims’ donations under the pretext of managing them and no programs exist to fund religious expeditions by Hindus. Further, a large percentage of university slots and job allocations are reserved for Muslims and Christians in most Indian states, and the educational system fails to emphasize the importance of Indian history, the contributions of Hindus, the study of Sanskrit, and the Hindu religion, even though India is a majority Hindu nation. In addition, anti-conversion laws are rarely enforced and illegal, forced conversions are not typically criminally prosecuted.
Thus, Modi’s candidacy offers hope to stem the tide that is fast Islamizing India. If the popular Modi can overcome the obstacles in his way and become the next prime minister of India, he would help restore Hindu confidence in the nation’s government, help ease tensions, and perhaps reduce the Hindu-Muslim conflicts that plague India now. But factionalization of the political system along religious lines could prove to be a spoiler to this end. And if the United States continues its interference in the Indian elections, the results could actually provide the opposite end sought by America and the West. India has long been an important ally sharing an extensive cultural, strategic, military, and economic relationship with the United States since the end of the Cold War. India’s strategic location between East and West makes it crucial to stemming Islamic aggression in the Free World. Continued interference could forebode disastrous results for both nations. It is a choice that the United States’ administration and foreign policy experts must make judiciously.
Ravi Raghavan, MS, an intellectual entrepreneur, political observer and social activist on issues relating to the US, Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent contributed to this story.