As Elections Approach, BJP Tempers Anti-Muslim Stance; Many Worry It Will Return

March 15, 2004

Source: NCM

On March 15, 2004 NCM reported, "India's pro-Hindu ruling party is feeling good. The country's economy has soared in the last year, and as voters consider their choices for national elections beginning next month, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is casting itself as the sole architect of a surging India...On the path to the polls, the BJP is riding a very different beast than the one that carried it to power five years ago. Back then it sought votes by slandering the country's minority Muslims. Now it's riding on outsourcing. U.S. and British multinationals have moved a torrent of information technology (IT) jobs to India. Outsourced services, like call centers and accounting, grew by a remarkable 59 percent in India last year and are likely to continue at that pace...But many worry that the party's success will re-energize its communal roots. When the BJP came to power, most agreed that it would have to moderate its pro-Hindu agenda and take a more benign attitude toward India's fantastically diverse citizenry of 1 billion people...the BJP is part of a messy, 25-member governing coalition that has helped take the edge off the party's harsher positions. The BJP's far-right allies, in fact, have thus far felt betrayed by its failure to carry out a sufficiently pro-Hindu agenda. The BJP has tried to temper its anti-Muslim stance. But there are signs they may abandon that effort."