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Protest against release of 2008 Mumbai attacks mastermind
Activists of India's right-wing Shiv Sena party shout slogans before they burnt posters of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi (C-bottom), alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks during a protest against Zaki-ur-Rehman's release, in New Delhi, on April 11, 2015.  EPA

Indian Political Party Advocates the Denial of Voting Rights for Muslims

Apr 13, 2015

A major Indian political party called for the voting rights of Muslims to be revoked in an editorial published Sunday, a statement that was slammed across the board and left its leadership red-faced and hastily backtracking.

The editorial was published in Saamana — the mouthpiece of the right-wing Shiv Sena party — and reiterated a statement from its late founder Balasaheb Thackeray that advocated the withdrawal of Muslim people's right to vote, the Indian Express reported.

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"If Muslims are being used ... to play politics, they can never develop," the editorial reads. "Balasaheb had once said voting rights of Muslims should be withdrawn. What he said is right."

The statement invoked the condemnation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the opposition Congress party and several others.

"The Indian Constitution has given every citizen, irrespective of his/ her caste, community or religion, the right to vote," said BJP spokesman Madhav Bhandari. "Those who express such views are blatantly violating the Indian Constitution. Strict action should be taken against them for such remarks."

Senior Congress politician Anand Sharma called the editorial "unacceptable," adding that "those behind the remarks have no place in a culture like ours."

Neelam Gorhe, a state legislator from the Shiv Sena, sought to downplay her party's controversial stand. "What [the Saamana editor] meant was that Muslims are being exploited for vote bank, and this will not lead to their development," she said. "He is not suggesting that their voting rights should be taken away."

The rights of India's minorities have become a major issue since Modi's Hindu nationalist BJP came to power, with several controversial statements over the past year including one by the leader of a Hindu fundamentalist organization just a day before the Shiv Sena editorial, calling for the forced sterilization of Muslims and Christians.

Later on Monday, controversial BJP lawmaker Sakshi Maharaj (who once said all Hindu women should produce four children) echoed the Shiv Sena's viewpoint by implying that Muslims should indulge in family planning or be "stripped of their voting right".

Read next: What India Can Teach Us About Islam and Assimilation

See The History of US—India Relations in 12 Photos

US ARMY BASE IN DINJAN,INDIA
1942: The US held loose relations with "The British Raj" before Indian independence. Yet the Western nation did maintain an Airfield base in Dinjan,India during this time. (Photo by Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)Ivan Dmitri—Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
US ARMY BASE IN DINJAN,INDIA
Truman Greets Nehru
Dwight Eisenhower, Jawaharlal Nehru
A US plane dropping supplies to Indian troops, during the border war with Red China.
Richard Nixon, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
Jimmy Carter, Morarji Desai, Rosalynn Carter
Rajiv Gandhi;Ronald W. Reagan
Indian Nuclear test site
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (
INDIA-ASIA-QUAKE-TSUNAMI
US President Barack Obama inspects a gua
India's Prime Minister Modi speaks at Madison Square Garden in New York
1942: The US held loose relations with "The British Raj" before Indian independence. Yet the Western nation did maintain
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Ivan Dmitri—Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
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