Why is BJP slandered by many people

Protest against governmentIndia's writers rebel against intolerance

It is the sharpest and loudest protest to date against the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been in office since May 2014. The world-famous author Nayantara Sahgal was among the first rebellious authors to return India's most coveted literary prize to the national Sahitya Academy to set an example.

"It's about much more than growing intolerance. It's about hating people who think differently," she explains in an interview with the ARD radio studio South Asia.

"We are seeing a growing wave of hatred of those who think differently because the government allows it. My biggest fear is that more and more people in India are living in fear."

The iron Curtain

Nayantara Sahgal is the niece of India's founder, Nehru. She grew up with the ideals of freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi, who went in and out of her parents' home. She later broke publicly with her cousin Indira Gandhi when the iron lady of India ruled the country as Prime Minister with brutal emergency laws.

Today Nayantara Sahgal is 88 years old. The author of the novel "The Memsahib" accuses the government of Narendra Modi of wanting to turn the multicultural India, which her family fought for, into a religious Hindu state.

"This one-way mindset of a Hindu state is imposed on everyone else. You are not allowed to eat beef, you are not allowed to do this, you are not allowed to do this. We are being suffocated. It feels to me as if an iron curtain is falling over freedom of thinking. "

"Hindus are turning into jihadists"

The protest of the rebel writers began at the end of August when the assassins murdered a well-known scientist and publicist who was critical of religion. They cut him down in his own house. Malleshapa Kalburgi had dealt critically with idol worship in Hinduism.

There was no loud outcry from government circles after this murder, and the national literary academy initially remained silent. The literary protest spread when, in late September, a Muslim blacksmith was beaten to death by an angry Hindu mob in a village near the capital, New Delhi - for falsely accused of eating beef.

For devout Hindus, cows are sacred animals that must not be slaughtered. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's conservative-religious Hindu party BJP is currently openly discussing a national ban on slaughter. The rebellious writers around Nayantara Sahgal speak of a dangerous political Hinduism. "Hindus are turning into jihadists. That's why I raise my voice," she says of her protest. "Hinduism is not a violent religion. But the idea of ​​political Hinduism is turning Hindus into jihadists. And I say this as a Hindu. I am a believer, not an atheist."

Why is German radio getting involved?

The defendants are becoming increasingly irritated. The ARD studio in New Delhi felt this during its research. When asked why the BJP government did not immediately condemn the beef murder of the Muslim blacksmith in order to send a clear signal, Tarun Vijay counters the accusation. Tarun Vijay is one of the masterminds of the ruling national-religious BJP and sits in the upper house of the Indian parliament.

"If there are people like you and your radio station who ignore any nationalist argument, what should we do? I am very astonished that a foreign station like German radio has so much hatred for part of the population that it dislikes meddling in India's internal affairs. "

Slaughter the truth

When asked again, he intensified his counter-accusation:

"Some people slaughter cows to provoke part of the Hindus. Others slaughter the truth to slander people they do not like."

For Tarun Vijay, the writers' protest is a planned smear campaign by left activists against a successful, conservative government whose focus is to develop India economically and socially. He sees critical questions as biased, left-wing propaganda.

Indian politician Tarun Vijay. (Tarun Vijay)

The BJP thought leader accuses the authors of doing the dirty work for the elected congress party of the famous Nehru Gandhi dynasty. "Neither of us approved of the murders. Returning the prizes is a cheap political ploy," he explains.

Vijay accuses the rebel writers of a selective perception: "These writers are silent when our soldiers in Kashmir are murdered by jihadists. They are silent when our soldiers, teachers and farmers are brutally murdered by left-wing extremist rebels. Then nobody gives their prices back. These writers expose themselves. " The writers are not sensitive to the "real pain inflicted on our population by Islamists and left-wing extremists."

Secular India or Hindu State?

India is a secular, multi-religious state. Around 80 percent of the Indian population are Hindus. The country has experienced violent outbreaks of violence on several occasions since its independence - especially between religions. Between Hindus and Sikhs in 1984, between Hindus and Muslims in 2002, to name just two examples.

The events of the past few weeks cannot be ignored: a pioneer who is critical of religion is dead. The debate about a ban on slaughtering cows has led to deadly violence against Muslims. Radical Hindus also agitated against art and artists. There are many indications that they are feeling encouraged.

Development and progress

Prime Minister Modi prefers to remain silent. The first time he spoke about the lynching of the Muslim farrier by a furious Hindu mob on September 28th was on October 9th, when his government came under increasing pressure. "Hindus have to choose whether to fight against Muslims or against poverty. Muslims have to choose whether to fight against Hindus or against poverty," said Modi. He avoided assigning blame.

He has his most powerful minister, Arun Jaitley, comment on the authors' rebellion. India's finance minister, like his party colleague Tarun Vijay, speaks of a "selective perception" of left activists in order to cause unrest with a "fabricated crisis". He described the murder of the blacksmith as "extremely unfortunate and damnable".

India's prime minister mostly talks about development and progress. On his most recent trip to the USA, he presented himself as a pioneer of a modern, digital India. At home he avoids making any public statements about the separation between politics, state and religion. But the public protest of the writers is putting pressure on his government to take a stand.