Washington, D.C. – It is too early to make any observation on communal politics in India after the advent of the new government in the country, two leading U.S. experts on South Asia have said, adding until now Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policies show he has nothing to do with the issue.
"Modi's a fascinating character and Indian politics moving forward I think are likely to have more to do with his personal ability to manage the inherent pieces or you might say contradictions or you might just say aspects of his political coalition that spans from hardcore RSS all the way to kind of rising middle class, moderate, sort of aspiring Indians," Daniel Markey from the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. think-tank, said.
He said that it is "early days" to make any observation on communal politics in the country
"Where he (Modi) wants to put his emphasis, at least at the outset, appears to be on things that have nothing to do with these issues of communal politics, or anything else. I hope for India's sake that continues to be the case. I think it's the smart way forward," Markey said in response to a question.
"I think he can keep a large coalition behind him and really push forward and make India a stronger place for it and keep everyone with him, keep a kind of a unity there. But we could also imagine that this coalition frays. And then you'll see some of the more communal politics play out. I think that could get dangerous," he noted.
Farah Pandith, a former State Department official now with the CFR, agreed that it is early days.
"I think it's really early days," the Indian American said when asked about the possibility of radicalization of Indian Muslims with Modi in power.
"It's interesting because in a place like India that has such an incredibly rich history of Islam, what you are seeing in India is the impact of external ideologies coming into India pushing back against the cultural Indian Islam, pushing back against traditions that have been part of the infrastructure for hundreds of years," Pandith said.
"You're seeing a change in the way in which young Indians sort of talk about themselves...the way they dress, the way they think about themselves. That is an interesting data point.
"I will say that that is important because as we think about the importance of the diversity of Islam globally, India plays a really important part of that narrative and about demonstrating their history and who they are," she said.