New Delhi : President Barack Obama has said religious intolerance in India would have shocked Mahatma Gandhi.
In his National Prayer Breakfast address in Washington after his return from India, Mr. Obama said that India was “full of magnificent diversity – but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs.”
Mr. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited India as guests at the country’s Republic Day celebrations last month. In his final speech during the visit, Mr. Obama said that India would only succeed if it didn’t “splinter along religious lines.”
Many interpreted his comments about religious divisions in the world’s largest democracy as a warning to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has roots in one of the country’s most influential hardline Hindu nationalist groups, the RSS. Some critics say his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is trying to advance a religious agenda and erode secularism in India, where over 80% of the population is Hindu and around 13% is Muslim.
With BJP’s humiliating defeat in Delhi Assembly Polls, political observers say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to invite US President Barack Obama has backfired as the US President’s parting shot on religious tolerance was reported way too much in media and left a lasting impression on the urban voters’ mind who only wants progress and development.
Moreover, PM Modi chose to maintain silence on the issue increasing the unease in the masses who do not want to entertain any divides on religious lines.
During the same visit, the Chai Pe Charcha with the US President, PM Modi’s wearing his own name embroided-wear and the overall impression of the President’s visit definitely did not leave a positive message with the common man. Ironically, a party for the common man passed on this message to Prime Minister Modi with a humiliating defeat for BJP in Delhi.
(With inputs from WSJ)