ISLAMABAD (Khyber Mail): A roundtable discussion at the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) concluded that a third term for Prime Minister Modi could have serious implications for religious minorities in India.

The discussion, attended by prominent academics and diplomats, highlighted the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) anti-Muslim stance and its reluctance to normalize relations with Pakistan. Former foreign secretary of Pakistan, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, stated that India was showing a growing tendency towards fascism under the BJP.

Dr Serena Hussain, Associate Professor of Sociology at the Centre for Trust Peace and Social Relations, Coventry, UK, noted that BJP’s policies were leading to extremist trends among Indian diaspora communities.

Professor James Manor, Emeritus of Commonwealth in the School of Advance Studies at the University of London, cautioned against taking a BJP victory in the election for granted, citing the party’s polarizing rhetoric as a sign of weakness.

The discussion also touched upon the global wave of religious fundamentalism affecting America and Europe, and its relation to the rising religious fundamentalism in India. The ideological discourse of Hindutva, which is polarizing Indian society, and Modi’s economic policies, which are adversely impacting the middle class, were also discussed.

The roundtable concluded with a warning about India’s obsession with Pakistan potentially leading to the use of anti-Pakistan sentiment as an election campaign slogan, as has been done in the past. The measures introduced by the Modi government to control and manipulate the print and electronic media were also highlighted.

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