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Modi Calls Muslims ‘Infiltrators’ Who Would Take India’s Wealth

WorldModi Calls Muslims ‘Infiltrators’ Who Would Take India’s Wealth

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called Muslims “infiltrators” who would take India’s wealth if his opponents gained power — unusually direct and divisive language from a leader who normally lets others do the dirtiest work of polarizing Hindus against Muslims.

Mr. Modi, addressing voters in the state of Rajasthan, referred to a remark once made by Manmohan Singh, his predecessor from the opposition Indian National Congress Party. Mr. Singh, Mr. Modi claimed, had “said that Muslims have the first right to the wealth of the nation. This means they will distribute this wealth to those who have more children, to infiltrators.”

Mr. Modi aimed his emotional appeal at women, addressing “my mothers and sisters” to say that his Congress opponents would take their gold and give it to Muslims.

Implications like these — that Muslims have too many babies, that they are coming for Hindus’ wives and daughters, that their nationality as Indian is itself in doubt — are often made by representatives of Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P.

Mr. Modi’s use of such language himself, as he campaigns for a third term in office, raised alarm that it could inflame right-wing vigilantes who target Muslims, and brought up questions about what had prompted his shift in communication style. Usually, Mr. Modi avoids even using the word “Muslims,” coyly finding ways to refer indirectly to India’s largest minority group, of 200 million people.

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