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ICC Note:

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has scored another electoral victory using religiously divisive politics in Muzaffarnagar, located in Uttar Pradesh. Playing to its Hindu nationalist base, the BJP sought to rally voters by espousing their Hindutva ideology that believes India is essentially a Hindu nation. Many observers are concerned that this ideology is driving a wedge between India’s majority Hindu population and the religious minority communities that are being seen as outsiders. In more extreme forms, the Hindutva has breed Hindu radical groups that often perpetrate acts of violence against India’s religious minority communities because they are viewed as a treat to India’s Hindu identity.  

2/17/2016 India (Reuters) – India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday won a by-election in a troubled corner of the country, after running a divisive campaign that opponents called a test case for a bigger state election in 2017.

Communal tension remains high in Muzaffarnagar in northern Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, three years after 65 people were killed in clashes between Hindus and Muslims, the worst bloodletting in the area in decades.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP swept the Muzaffarnagar election, beating out powerful regional parties and reducing its main nationwide rival, the Congress party, to third place, the results released by the election commission showed.

In the run-up to the vote, state BJP leaders sought to rally voters behind their Hindutva campaign, or the idea that today’s multi-faith India is fundamentally a Hindu nation.

Critics see the campaign as an attempt to drive a wedge between Hindus, who make up 80 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people and Muslims, Christians and others.

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