Hindu nationalism to the fore in India’s elections

NEW DELHI, April 15, 2014 (AFP) – A war of words erupted among the “first family” of Indian politics on Tuesday as a new poll pointed to a sweeping election win for the Hindu nationalist opposition. Priyanka Gandhi, sister of Rahul Gandhi who is leading the ruling Congress party’s campaign, called the bitterly fought election contest an “ideological war” against the hardline Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Priyanka was targeting her estranged cousin Varun Gandhi who is running for re-election as a member of parliament for the BJP, accusing him of “betraying the (ideals of the) family.”

“This is not a family tea party, this is an ideological war,” said Priyanka as an opinion survey by India’s NDTV channel projected the BJP would clinch a parliamentary majority with its allies.

“It is a fight for the heart of the country,” said Priyanka, 42, while campaigning in the multi-phase election for her brother Rahul, 43, local media reported.

Priyanka, Rahul and their mother, Congress party president Sonia, 67, have increasingly focused on what they charge is the BJP’s threat to secularism in the religiously diverse nation as Congress’s support has plunged amid voter anger over corrupti