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India further divided under Modi

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12th-Apr-2019       
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The New York Times, New Delhi  :
In the machine tools market in the catacombs of Old Delhi, Muslims dominate the business stalls. But at night, they say, they are increasingly afraid to walk alone. And when they talk politics, their voices drop to a whisper.
"I could be lynched right now and nobody would do anything about it," said Abdul Adnan, a Muslim who sells drill bits. "My government doesn't even consider me Indian. How can that be when my ancestors have lived here hundreds of years?"
"Brother, let me tell you," Mr. Adnan added with a sigh, "I live with fear in my heart."
When Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, was elected in 2014, it was with broad support for his sweeping promises to modernize India's economy, fight corruption and aggressively assert India's role in the world. Five years later, he is widely seen as having made at least some progress on those issues.
[Go here for a graphical analysis of the issues and concerns in India's huge election season.]
That secular agenda was always entwined with Mr. Modi's roots within a conservative  Hindu political movement that strives to make India a Hindu state. Many of his more moderate supporters hoped he might set the sectarianism aside.
But over the past five years, his bloc, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., has been spreading an us-versus-them philosophy in a country already riven by dangerous divisions. The Hindu right has never been more enfranchised at every level of government.

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