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Indian government attacked over intercommunal violence

By Mubasshir Mushtaq
NEW DELHI (AA) - Sonia Gandhi, president of India’s main opposition party, has attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led federal government over rising incidents of intercommunal violence in the country.  Gandhi, whose coalition government United Progressive Alliance was defeated in parliamentary elections in July, said on Tuesday that during their ten years in power, there were “hardly such instances”.
“But in a very short span we have had nothing less than 600 incidents of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh and perhaps as many in Maharashtra,” Gandhi said while chairing a party meeting in the southern state of Kerala.
The Congress party president said the sudden spurt in intercommunal incidents had been “deliberately created” to divide society on religious lines.
Jitendra Singh, a junior minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, described Gandhi’s statement as “baseless”.
At a party meeting on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at the Congress party, accusing it of practicing “vote-bank politics” despite its “humiliating defeat” earlier this year.
“Despite their humiliating defeat, those who cannot move away from vote-bank politics are harming the [country’s] social fabric...This politics of promoting polarization and divisiveness for electoral gain must end,” Modi said.
Sonia Gandhi’s statement comes after her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi called for a debate on the issue in the lower house of the Indian parliament last week. Rahul Gandhi flashed a copy of the English-language Indian Express in Lok Sabha, whose investigative reports documented 600 “communal incidents” in India’s biggest and most populous state of Uttar Pradesh over the past 10 weeks.
Interestingly, the communal incidents have occurred in and around 12 state assembly constituencies scheduled to go to polls over the next few months.
“The politics of polarization has become a serious electoral tool to divide people on religious lines like majority and minority,” said Rakesh Sharma, an internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker, whose next film focuses on rise of right-wing Hindu nationalism, speaking to Anadolu Agency.
“The template of polarization was very much part of parliamentary elections,” Sharma said, claiming this trend was because of “regime change”.
Despite repeated attempts by AA, a BJP spokesman was not available to comment on Gandhi’s statement.

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