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Narendra Modi, leader of India's divisive Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will almost certainly become the country's next prime minister. But given the party's platform of Hindu nationalism and association with religious violence, it's surprising that many Christians aren't concerned about his election.
The reason? Modi is promising jobs.
"Believers . . . don't have any difficulties with Modi. In fact, they applaud his developmental efforts," the head of the Jacobite Syrian Church told reporters in January.
Since the economy peaked at 9.3 percent annual growth in 2011, growth has plummeted to about 5 percent. India's Christian minority has long backed the Congress party, which has been in power since 2009. But corruption, scandals, and ineffective economic policies have tarnished the party. "Congress can no longer be sure it retains the trust of the poor, the Dalits, the tribals, and the minorities, [who] voted for it all these years," John Dayal, cofounder of the All India Christian Council, announced on his blog.
The nation's economic downturn has allowed for the resurgence of the BJP, the Hindu nationalist group that governed India from 1998 to 2004. Many Christians have accused the BJP of inciting violence against Christians and Muslims.
Modi, 63, has been chief minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat since 2001. To the delight of India's corporate class, Gujarat now accounts for 72 percent of all new Indian jobs.
But Modi will find it hard to distance himself from one of India's worst recent cases of religious violence. In February 2002, Hindu rioters killed 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, in Gujarat. The attacks have been labeled a pogrom, taking place after 58 Hindu pilgrims died in a train fire that Muslim radicals allegedly started. Human rights groups believe Modi incited violence against Muslims by blaming the fire on Pakistan. Others accuse the Gujarat government of failing to ...