India’s ruling BJP turns up Hindu nationalist heat with renamings, statue plan

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Source: Reuters

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – From getting rid of some Muslim names of places to promising a “grand” statue of the Hindu god Ram, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party is making passionate appeals to its hard-core Hindu nationalist base in the most politically important state ahead of a national election next year.

A near clean-sweep in Uttar Pradesh, the northern state of 220 million people that sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament, helped Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win its biggest mandate in three decades in 2014.

Political strategists say keeping its mainly Hindu base intact in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere would be crucial to repeat such a performance, but there are also concerns that the BJP has been turning up the heat on divisive religious issues.

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