May 17, 2014 6:08 am JST

Indian election results stoke concern of Hindu-Muslim tension

SATOSHI IWAKI, Nikkei staff writer

NEW DELHI -- The sweeping victory by the Bharatiya Janata Party this week is fueling fears of renewed sectarian conflict in India.

     The incoming prime minister, Narendra Modi, has long been active in the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, which is part of the BJP's base.

     Modi was chief minister of the western state of Gujarat in 2002 when violent clashes between Muslims and Hindus there claimed the lives of over 1,200. Distrust stemming from Modi's failure to suppress the riots lingers to this day.

     He also took some flack during the campaign for attempting to shore up support with words and actions seen fanning anti-Muslim sentiment.

     RSS' support came as a boon during the elections, but keeping some distance with the group could prove a source of consternation going forward. One Indian political commentator likens the RSS to a powerful drug for the new government: highly effective but with severe side effects as well.