This op-ed was written by a guest author who is a prominent leader of a large civil society organization in India. His name is being withheld for security reasons.
ANOTHER CHAPTER IN INDIA’S POLITICS
The dream of the right wing Hindutva political groups has materialized. They will be in power for the next 5 years with a solid majority. The BJP has performed better than any single party in the last 20 years.
For the Congress it is the worst performance ever with less than 50 seats in Parliament.
The BJP will have a majority on it’s own which means a major change to the era of coalition politics.
So what does it mean for Kingdom concerns?
Modi has promised a more free market economy and the stock market has jumped more than 1000 points in the last couple of days. Modi has promised more economic development. An inflation burdened middle class and poor has voted in favor of the development that Modi promised. Modi’s slogan has been ‘Good days are here again.’ In his tweet after the win he says, India has won. Good days ahead.
However the delivery of the promise is a monumental job. How one will reduce inflation in a debt ridden economy is not easy to see. How development will be brought to 800 million people who live on less than $ 1 a day is a huge challenge.
The middle class of 250 million will expect major economic changes as they have struggled in the last few years. They will expect good governance and development. Yet the welfare decisions for the poor made by the Congress won’t be easy to remove. Yet India has huge potential to change its economic condition.
It is unlikely that the corruption issue will be confronted head on. The amount of money that has flowed into the elections begs the question about the origin of all this money. About 700 million dollars has been approximately spent on the advertising campaign of the BJP alone not to speak of all other parties.
2. Communal politics
The Hindu- Muslim divide increased during the elections and will continue in the next 5 years. How will the new government handle the inevitable communal tensions that are part and parcel of life? The Muslims will have very little representation in the new parliament and just 1 MP in the BJP.
A divided Muslim vote in UP and Bihar vote has helped the BJP in these elections get a majority. A divided Dalit and backward caste vote has also helped the BJP. There have been too many parties wanting these caste and minority votes.
It is hard not to see the rise of religious violence between Hindu-Muslim groups. The divide and fissures are deep.
3. Religious Freedom
As one commentator said that the size of the BJP win is worrisome as this is an unique case of an unapologetic right wing party getting such a majority in a democracy. They have been clear about their Ayodhya temple agenda, the anti-conversion agenda and other personal laws related to minorities.
Religious freedoms most likely will come under severe challenges. Christian groups need to be prepared to deal with these challenges. Local persecution is bound to increase across the nation.
One wonders if there will be an attempt now to bring a national anti- conversion law and whether the foreign exchange regulation act will be used to harass Christian groups involved in evangelization.
4. Caste Issues
For the first time in Indian history a low caste person ( an OBC ) becomes the leader of India. This is a huge historical development.
How this now plays out in the caste politics even within the upper caste dominated BJP will unfold in the years ahead. The upper castes will have to come to term with a Sudra King. This has not happened before.
What this development does to Dalit politics again is not clear. Mayawati the leader of Dalits in UP has been decimated. Is this a wind down of the rise of Dalit political power?
5. 100 Million New Voters and the New Media
Without any question the Modi focus on the youth and 100 million new voters is a huge factor in this election win. Modi offered hope through the slogan of bringing in good days for India. And his communication team led by young people reached out massively through social media to this young voter who has decided for Modi and the BJP. There was concerted messaging to the youth and a phenomenal use of new media to get their message across.
Other political parties were unwilling to come to terms with this new and changing young India.
1. The Lord continues to be King of the world and India.
God’s purposes for India continue as strong as ever. He knows what is ahead. He knows that this land needs justice, restoration, righteousness and salvation.
God is more than able to protect His Church through this coming period.
A religious right wing party may not be the worst thing for the Kingdom.
Religious right wing parties in power have shown to bring major disillusionment across the world. Without a serious commitment to Kingdom values by any political apparatus the serious issues of the human condition cannot be addressed.
2. It will be our prayer that any increase in persecution and clampdown and harassment of Christian work will result in greater growth of the Church. Some of us believe that this could be a precursor to an even greater awakening than what we have seen in the recent past.
We won’t have the freedoms of the last decade or so and this will call for a rethink on how we approach Christian ministry in the land.
3. Kingdom work will have to engage the issues of religious violence and animosity, deep seated caste aspirations, economic fairness, and the nature of God’s salvation at the deepest level – the heart of individuals and communities.
4. With the kind of victory of the BJP, India could easily descend into extreme nationalism with it’s assault on democratic institutions. There are extreme right wing ideologies that drive it’s agenda. But India has now a minority population of over 25% and any misstep or free reign to right wing Hindu groups will result in violence and untold consequences for the nation.
Pray for the next five years. Why not earnestly pray for “good days” for the Kingdom of God in India in this context?