India (MNN) — It’s the start of a new week in India but not a new political era. Election results in the world’s largest democracy are troubling for believers, to say the least.
On Thursday, officials announced the results of a six-week polling process in which more than 600 million Indian citizens elected leaders at various levels of governance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist group, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), won by a landslide – guaranteeing five more years of power.
When the BJP came to power in 2014, they won 282 seats in Parliament’s lowest house – the first time in thirty years that a single party obtained so many seats. This year, they claimed 303 seats. “It’s stunning,” Bibles For The World’s John Pudaite observes.
“My friends in the business community [find] it to be a good thing because they see it as a political stability… they don’t expect any major changes. But, I’ll tell you from the Christian community, it is really not a good thing.
“We have seen the escalation of persecution… during the last five years that this current party has led the government. Christians across the country are bracing themselves for another five years of the same, and many are expecting it to get worse.”
Speaking to U.S. News & World Report about the election results, University of London professor Subir Sinha claims, “Secularism is basically tottering on its knees in India.” Associate professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, Ajay Gudavarthy, predicts the next five years will bring “a more blatant kind of attack on individuals and institutions who don’t adhere to their ideologies.”
What Hindu nationalism means for Christians
Last fall, Hindu nationalists rallied around the goal of making India a “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu nation) by 2024. Modi and the BJP support the concept, making no secret of their “Hindu first” agenda.
Henrietta Blyth, the CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, told Christian Today earlier this week,
“It is an increasingly worrying time for Christians in India. Over the last five years, they have experienced a significant level of violence, discrimination, and intolerance against them. We hope that this second BJP victory will not be a mandate for increased persecution but will instead be an opportunity to heal the increasing divides in India.”
As noted here, there’s even suspicion of a move toward two types of citizenship: Hindu and non-Hindu. A move like this could put even more pressure on Christians and other minorities.
Nonetheless, hope remains. Despite increased persecution and hardship, “we have been seeing requests for Scriptures, for God’s Word,” notes Pudaite.
“Whether [it’s] Bibles for new believers or Scriptures for evangelism, [requests are] even greater than ever before.”
With a strong emphasis on India, Bibles For The World serves unreached people groups, the Church, and Christian leaders in developing nations in a variety of ways. Learn more about their work here.
How to pray for India
Like dark clouds looming on the horizon, Hindu ideology and nationalism appear to be gaining even more strength than before. Pudaite says Indian believers need “to prepare for persecution and hardship that is going to come ahead in the next few years.”
Pray believers will keep sharing God’s truth and trust Him to control the future. Ask the Lord to have mercy upon India, and pray for the Holy Spirit to move the hearts of people who don’t know Christ yet.
“[We’ve] got to keep praying that those people out there working hard [to build] the Kingdom [and] getting the good news of Jesus Christ out to the people of India will continue with the same fervor and passion.”
Header image obtained from Narendra Modi’s personal feed on Flickr.