UPDATE: India has announced that national elections will be held on April 7, instead of May.
India (MNN) — A recent Pew Research study shows a Hindu nationalist party is expected to sweep India’s next election. The nationalist group is inherently anti-Christian, and their rise to power could spell trouble for those who follow Christ in India.
One of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India’s in-country partners says, “People are looking for a change. But when this nationalistic party comes into power, there are more negatives than the positive.”
According to the Pew study, people prefer the nationalist party three-to-one over the Congress party, which has ruled India for the past decade. Nearly 800 million people are eligible to vote in May’s national elections; some 150 million will be first-time voters.
This young populous is a key demographic for the nationalist party. The party’s general secretary told The Indian Express recently that they have tried to connect with young voters “from the beginning” through various platforms.
“The psychology of the young voter is unpolluted,” he said. “For them, good governance will be the issue.”
Young voters in the “Hindu Heartland” are expected to turn out in droves; the number of first-time voters is higher than the national average in four of this region’s states.
In addition, states are gaining power and influence in the national sphere, according to CNN’s Sumnima Udes.
“Economic power translates to political clout, and as the central government is becoming weaker, the states are becoming stronger,” said Udes. “The shift is so substantial, states and regional parties can now dictate national and international policies.”
This gain is cause for concern because seven states have anti-conversion laws in place. As a result, many believers in these states are persecuted for sharing the Gospel.
“Some of the persecutions actually are state-sponsored persecutions,” says the Gospel worker. “Keeping that in view, there are a lot of apprehensions, especially among the minority [communities].”
Already believers have been targeted in the run-up to May’s national elections. Will you stand with Indian believers in prayer over this issue?
“Leaders, and the kings and the kingdoms, are in the hands of the Lord,” the worker notes. “We are just mobilizing prayer, you know; let God’s will be done.”
Despite political storm clouds gathering on the horizon, Mission India’s partners are continuing to share the Gospel. Learn more about their work here.