India bans firebrand Hindu from vote campaign for anti-Muslim comment

Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, addresses the audience after inaugurating power projects in Allahabad, June 4, 2017.(Reuters)
Updated 15 April 2019
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India bans firebrand Hindu from vote campaign for anti-Muslim comment

  • Yogi Adityanath, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, had been warned this month about his campaign speeches
  • Adityanathhad spoken about a “green virus” in a speech last week, apparently referring to Muslim voters

NEW DELHI: India’s election commission on Monday banned a firebrand Hindu nationalist state chief minister from campaigning for three days to stop him stoking hatred between religious communities in a divisive election that will end next month.
The saffron-clad Yogi Adityanath, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, had been warned this month about his campaign speeches, the election commission said in its order.
The commission said Adityanath, a holy man who is chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state, had spoken about a “green virus” in a speech last week, apparently referring to Muslim voters who he said were being wooed by opposition parties.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been playing to its nationalist base and painting its rivals as soft on terrorism and eager to appease Muslims, who make up about 14 percent of India’s 1.3 billion population.
A BJP spokesman said the party was inclusive toward all communities and its leaders were discussing the ban on Adityanath.
“The party believes in all-together development for all, and we don’t believe in any polarization,” the spokesman, Harish Srivastava, said.
The election commission also imposed a ban on the powerful leader of the Dalits, people at the bottom of the Hindu caste structure, saying she had violated a code of conduct by asking Muslims to vote en bloc for opposition candidates.
The ban on the Dalit leader, Mayawait, would run for two days, it said.
A spokesman for Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, which is in an alliance with another regional party in Uttar Pradesh, could not be reached.
Staggered voting in the general election began last Thursday and will end on May 19.
Although jobs, nationalism and conditions for farmers are the main issues, religion is an important and sensitive topic.
The BJP repeated in its manifesto a commitment to build a Hindu temple in the northern town of Ayodhya at a site disputed by Muslims, seeking to gain the support of majority Hindus.
Last week, BJP president Amit Shah referred to illegal Muslim immigrants as “termites” and vowed to throw them into the sea.
Surveys suggest that Modi’s ruling alliance can win a simple majority this time, a poorer performance that in the last election in 2014, when it secured a commanding majority on a promise to turn India into an economic and military power.


Voting closing in race to become UK’s new prime minister

Updated 26 min 53 sec ago
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Voting closing in race to become UK’s new prime minister

  • Members of the governing Conservative Party had until 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) to return postal ballots in the contest between Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to lead the party

LONDON: Voting was closing Monday in the race to become Britain’s next prime minister, as critics of likely winner Boris Johnson condemned his vow to take Britain out of the European Union with or without a divorce deal.
Members of the governing Conservative Party had until 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) to return postal ballots in the contest between Johnson and Jeremy Hunt to lead the party.
The winner will be announced Tuesday, and will take over as the nation’s leader from Prime Minister Theresa May the following day.
Johnson, a populist former mayor of London, is the strong favorite.
Several members of May’s government have said they will resign before they can be fired by Johnson over their opposition to his threat to go through with a no-deal Brexit if he can’t secure a renegotiated settlement with the EU.
Most economists say quitting the 28-nation bloc without a deal would cause Britain economic turmoil. The UK’s official economic watchdog has forecast that a no-deal Brexit would trigger a recession, with the pound plummeting in value, borrowing soaring by 30 billion pounds ($37 billion) and the economy shrinking 2% in a year.
Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday that a no-deal Brexit would be “an act of economic self-harm that runs wholly counter to the national interest.”
EU leaders insist they won’t reopen the 585-page withdrawal agreement they made with May’s government, which has been repeatedly rejected by Britain’s Parliament.
Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan quit Monday, lamenting in his resignation letter that “we have had to spend every day working beneath the dark cloud of Brexit.”
Other government ministers, including Treasury chief Philip Hammond, are set to resign on Wednesday.
The new prime minister will preside over a House of Commons in which most members oppose leaving the EU without a deal, and where the Conservative Party lacks an overall majority.
Opposition parties are preparing for an early election which could be triggered if the government loses a no-confidence vote in the coming months.
The centrist Liberal Democrats, who have seen a surge in support thanks to their strongly anti-Brexit stance, were set to declare the winner of their own leadership contest on Monday.