Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised his nationalist party’s courage Monday amid political clashes and killings after his latest landslide election triumph.
Three workers from Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been killed and there have been pitched battles between BJP activists and a rival regional party in West Bengal state since Modi secured a new five-year term last week.
Thousands of supporters lined the streets of his political bastion of Varanasi, waving flags, chanting his name and throwing flower petals at his cavalcade, despite 40 degree Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) heat.
Modi offered prayers to Hindu god Shiva at the renowned Kashi Vishwanath temple where priests in saffron robes chanted hymns and blew conch shells.
“Why are our workers being killed and attacked in Kashmir, Kerala or Bengal,” Modi said. “It is shameful and anti-democratic,” he added.
BJP’s Victory Marred with Political Murders
A close aide of former BJP minister Smriti Irani, Surendra Singh was shot dead by gunmen on a motorbike in the Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh state on Saturday night. Irani won the Amethi seat from opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
According to the statement by the police and his family, Surendra Singh was shot in the head as he slept in the courtyard of his home on Saturday night. The victim was rushed to a hospital but he could not be attended immediately, hence, was taken to another hospital in Lucknow, where he was pronounced dead.
Read more: What direction Modi is going to take India?
The Hindu reported that Abhay Pratap, Singh’s son said that his father’s active and “fearless” support of the BJP throughout the election campaign had irked “Congress supporters, unruly elements” who did not want him to celebrate BJP’s victory.
Pramod Tiwari, former MP of the Indian Congress has asked BJP to “introspect” that when it is unable to protect the lives of its own workers, “how would it protect the common people, despite having governments at the State and the Centre.”
Another BJP worker was shot dead in West Bengal on Sunday night, triggering fresh clashes with supporters of the rival Trinamool Congress party, officials said. The two sides hurled home-made bombs at each other and about a dozen people were injured.
Saffron balloons, flags and large Modi cut-outs lined the access road to the temple where police and commandos secured the district, packed with old houses and businesses.
A BJP activist was shot dead in West Bengal a day after election results were announced on Thursday. Other politicians from the ruling party and opposition were killed during the campaign in several states.
Modi Thanks Varanasi for Mammoth Victory
Varanasi, where many Hindus are cremated on wooden pyres beside the sacred Ganges River, is considered one of the religion’s most holy cities. Modi offered prayers to Hindu god Shiva at the renowned Kashi Vishwanath temple where priests in saffron robes chanted hymns and blew conch shells.
Saffron balloons, flags and large Modi cut-outs lined the access road to the temple where police and commandos secured the district, packed with old houses and businesses. “We have come to see Modi and support him. Varanasi is blessed to have Modi as its MP,” Deep Chand, a resident of the city, told AFP.
“In just five years the city has seen so much development which was unheard of in the last 60 years. He has the support of every Indian and he’s going to take the country to new heights.”
Addressing the people at Varanasi, Prime Minister Modi thanked the public for facilitating BJP’s mammoth victory in the Indian general elections. NDTV reported that Modi stressed that BJP had always struggled with the twin challenges of political violence and political untouchability, however, he added, that despite the struggle, if there is one truly democratic party in India, it is the BJP.
Modi said, “We care about democracy even when we are in power,” he said in his address at Varanasi, where he went today to thank the people after the party’s mammoth victory in the national elections.”
The BJP has made huge inroads in Bengal, adding 16 seats to the two it won in 2012 – the state witnessed violence at every phase of the election.
However, Modi lamented, BJP’s mammoth victory “came at a cost”. He regretted, “In some states, hundreds of our workers have been killed because of their political views. Political untouchability is gaining ground by the day. In some places, just the name of BJP is enough to create an atmosphere of untouchability.”
Modi, who was declared a mass murdered around the globe after the 2002 Gujarat riots, stated that attacking and killing BJP workers is “shameful and anti-democratic”.
The BJP has made huge inroads in Bengal, adding 16 seats to the two it won in 2012 – the state witnessed violence at every phase of the election. Its tally in Jammu and Kashmir, however, has gone down by one seat. Modi is due to take the oath of office in New Delhi on Thursday.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk.