India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has refused to dismiss a fellow BJP government minister whose derogatory comments about religious minorities in India has led to calls for her dismissal. Several other BJP officials have been accused of making hate speeches against India’s religious minorities which includes Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists. Are these derogatory comments and Modi’s refusal to do something about it part of a new trend that religious minorities in India should be concerned about?
12/4/2014 India (Pakistan Today) – India’s new Hindu nationalist premier Narendra Modi on Thursday rejected angry calls to dismiss a government minister whose derogatory comment about religious minorities has caused uproar in parliament.
India’s upper house has been paralyzed by opposition protests since Niranjan Jyoti issued the remarks.
Jyoti, a junior minister in the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, has since apologized for the comment, seen as an attack on religious minorities in the majority-Hindu nation.
But opposition parties have continued to demand her dismissal, and on Thursday Modi sought to stem the political fallout by urging lawmakers to accept her apology.
“This minister is new, she has entered parliament for the first time (at the last election)… She has apologized,” Modi said.
“I request the House to continue with its work in the interests of the country.”
The BJP was accused during this year’s general election campaign of trying to polarise votes along religious lines.
Hindus make up 80 percent of India’s 1.2-billion population while Muslims total 13.4 percent, according to census figures. Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and other religions account for the rest.
Party president Amit Shah faces charges of inflaming religious tensions with a campaign speech he gave in the northern district of Muzaffarnagar, which was hit last year by deadly Hindu-Muslim riots.
Modi, who led his party to a landslide victory in national elections in May, was himself accused of failing to curb 2002 anti-Muslim riots that claimed at least 1,000 lives when he was chief minister of Gujarat state.
He has always rejected the accusations, and India’s Supreme Court found no evidence to prosecute him.
Jyoti, minister for food processing, made her comment at a rally in New Delhi, where local elections will be held early next year.