India’s Modi condemns ‘evict Muslims’ statement

NEW DELHI, April 22, 2014 (AFP) – Indian election frontrunner Narendra Modi on Tuesday condemned virulent anti-Muslim remarks by a one-time associate as he sought to keep attention on his core message of development and corruption-free administration. The BJP, last in power from 1990 to 2004, is widely forecast to emerge as the biggest party in the next parliament, with results in India’s staggered elections due on May 16.

Modi rose through the ranks of right-wing Hindu organisations but has been campaigning as a centrist economic reformer, promising clean government after a decade of rule by the scandal-plagued Congress party.

Azam Khan, a Muslim leader of the regional Samajwadi Party, has also been sanctioned during campaigning for stating that only Muslim soldiers had fought for India during a brief 1999 war with Pakistan atop the Kargil ridges in Kashmir. Praveen Togadia, head of the right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council), faces a police investigation after a video appeared to show him urging Hindus to evict Muslims from their neighbourhoods in western Gujarat state.

Speaking in Gujarat on Saturday, Togadia is heard saying: “We (Hindus) are in a majority — we should have the courage to intimidate them by taking the l