Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the ruling party in a no confidence debate on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, saying its divisive politics was stirring violence in a state that’s left more than 150 people dead.
(Bloomberg) — Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the ruling party in a no confidence debate on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, saying its divisive politics was stirring violence in a state that’s left more than 150 people dead.
Gandhi, who is positioning himself as a challenger to Modi in next year’s elections, was referencing the Bharata Janata Party’s Hindu nationalist agenda. Modi’s opponents have said the BJP’s political dominance has made the South Asian country less tolerant of religious and ethnic minorities.
“Their politics has not only killed Manipur, but also India,” Gandhi said in the debate before the no confidence vote scheduled for Thursday. “You have sparked a fire in Manipur. You have set the entire country on fire.”
Gandhi’s speech triggered an uproar in the lower house of parliament, which has seen opposition and ruling party lawmakers debate the no confidence vote against the government over it’s handling of the violence. More than 50,000 people have been displaced since May in Manipur — a state controlled by the BJP.
Modi is expected to respond on Thursday before the parliamentary vote. His government won’t lose the no confidence motion as the coalition led by the BJP enjoys a supermajority.
The opposition said the no confidence motion is a tactic to force Modi to speak more on the deadly violence in Manipur. When a video surfaced of two women being paraded naked and allegedly raped in the state that borders Myanmar, Modi made his first public comment last month but focused on the safety of women.
Modi has kept largely silent on the conflict between the two ethnic groups — the Christian Kukis and the Hindu Meitei, which was triggered by a dispute on affirmative action benefits. He has yet to visit Manipur since the violence began in May, which Gandhi also brought up in the parliament proceedings.
A rush of refugees from Myanmar following the 2021 military coup added a sense of insecurity among the Meitei community as they felt it will change the demography of the state because migrants share ethnic ties with Kukis in Manipur, Home Minister Amit Shah said in parliament on Wednesday. The spread of rumors led to unrest in the state, he said.
More than 14, 800 people were arrested in the violence that killed 152 people, said Shah. The government is taking security measures and holding talks with both the groups to check clashes, he said, urging the two communities to shun violence.
BJP lawmakers hit back at Gandhi, saying his party never found traction with voters since getting voted out of federal government in 2014.
Gandhi was making his first speech in parliament since getting reinstated as a lawmaker this week following a a stay on his defamation conviction by India’s top court. A scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, Gandhi is trying to build momentum for Congress after its rare victory in a local election in the southern state of Karnataka.
(Updates with home minister’s comment in eighth paragraph)
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