India's BJP releases manifesto ahead of upcoming elections

Rahul Gandhi

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday wondered whether people of Israel and India feel outraged at how far their respective leaders will go to win elections.

This was despite the massive alienation that Muslims in Kashmir and Muslims in general were facing in Modi's India, said Khan, who took office last August.

Groups of Hindu nationalists are increasingly carrying out attacks against Muslims to protect revered cattle - known as "cow vigilante mobs" - killing 24 people since 2010.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray will share a stage on Tuesday while campaigning for their alliance in the 17th Lok Sabha elections.

Khan did appear to offer India an olive branch, saying that Islamabad was determined to dismantle all Pakistan-based militias in the country, and that the government had full support from Pakistan's powerful army for the programme.

The BJP has consistently advocated an end to Kashmir's special constitutional status, which prevents outsiders from buying property there, arguing that such laws have hindered its integration with the rest of India. Those to be dismantled include groups involved in Kashmir.

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India goes to polls next week where Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would be trying its utmost to return with a thumping win while the main opposition party, Indian National Congress (INC), would attempt to deny Prime Minister Modi's party continuity in the saddle and to win a majority.

Relations between Pakistan and India, which have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two over Kashmir, reached a crisis point in February after a suicide bombing killed 40 Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir.

Shiv Sena had been in tandem over supporting the BJP as the former had been criticising the ruling dispensation over its policies but post Pulwama attack, the latter joined in with the BJP and said, that 'it's the nation which comes first and then the petty politics'.

The national elections will see close to 900 million voters cast their ballots in almost a million polling booths - the world's biggest ever democratic exercise. The result will be counted on May 23.

India carried out air strikes in February on a suspected militant camp based in Balakot, Pakistan, who had claimed responsibility for a deadly vehicle bombing in Kashmir.

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