India | 13 June 2024

India’s election results: How it affects Christians


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On April 19, India began to vote in its parliamentary election. The election, the largest in human history, took six weeks to finish the voting and then an additional several days for the votes to be fully counted. There were 960 million eligible voters—more than 10% of the global population.

By June 4, results began to be released. And, in a stunning result, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won—but with significantly less support than advance and exit polls predicted. What this means for India’s Christians is that they may be able to hope for a slowdown in the Hindu nationalist rhetoric that has driven so much persecution over the last decade.

The BJP won 240 out of the 543 seats in Parliament—enough to give it a majority, but not enough to form a government on its own. Comparatively, the BJP won about 300 seats in the last election in 2019. Modi will likely stay on as Prime Minister, but will be forced to invite other parties into a coalition, which could curb some of the extremism that has often been the hallmark of the BJP.

Potential good news
The close battle between two political parties—Modi’s BJP and the opposition coalition I.N.D.I.A.—shows that the people of India are dissatisfied with the current state of Indian politics.

Open Doors partner Rahul Reddy*, who has a bird’s eye view of Indian politics, explains that the uptick in the profile of the opposing party can be good news for people who belong to minority religions, including followers of Jesus.
“Although the election seems to favor the communal party, the emergence of I.N.D.I.A bloc should be applauded,” Reddy says. “They have become a formidable opponent to the ruling party and have fought neck and neck. Now, there is an opposition that can counter the nationalist government in cases of tyranny and oppression.”

Reddy says that given the lack of absolute power of BJP, their nationalist agenda may now be kept in check. “They cannot misuse things such as the Enforcement Directorate or Income Tax or their allies to threaten opposing ministers and send political opponents to jail,” he explains. “Leaders cannot amend the laws based on serpentine [methods]. This election gave a gift of democracy compared to the past two term elections that have been biased. This election is clear evidence of the beginning of the fall of hatred politics.”

Since the BJP first came to power in 2014, religious intolerance towards Christians and Muslims has escalated significantly. Priya Sharma*, a local partner of Open Doors says she feels that the pattern of persecution is far from random. “The attacks against Christians have been very systematic and have only increased,” she says. “Pastors are imprisoned on false charges, churches are closed, and there is forced re-conversion to Hinduism.”

She says that the BJP’s ideology has emboldened Hindu extremist groups, leading to physical assaults, false accusations of forced conversions, and mob violence—often with little or no legal consequences. Even during the election period, violence continued unabated, particularly in regions like Manipur where extremists attacked polling booths and murdered Christians.

Churches in India were heavily involved in the election and praying for its outcome. “They took this election seriously and most of them voted, praying for some kind of change, because they had been aware what kind of situation has been created for them in the past 10 years,” Sharma says. “They believe whatever […] the result, that it's from God, and they will get the strength and grace to handle the situation.”

Remain in prayer
While the election results suggest good news for Indian believers, Christians around the world should still be aware that things are not suddenly solved for Christians in India. India, No. 11 on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List—which ranks the 50 places where it’s most difficult to be a follower of Christ—will likely still have a prime minister who has furthered Hindu nationalist policies, and referred to himself as “sent by God.”

We must remain in prayer for India’s Christians, many of whom risk everything to live out their faith.

Sharma’s plea to the new government is to restore India’s secular character. “Make India a secular country,” she urges. “It’s supposed to be a place for all religions to coexist. We need a place where people can practice their rights and create a safe haven for people of all faiths.”

She continues: “India’s Christians have been praying and fasting extensively. They could take encouragement that their prayers have been answered in part by the BJP not reaching an absolute majority. Hopefully, they will continue to pray that the need for collaboration might offer some opportunities for change.”

*Name changed for security reasons
please pray

Our partners tell us we can pray with our family in India in the following ways:

  • Pray for the right government to be formed and that national leaders will guide the nation with equality and non-discrimination.
  • Pray that the new government will work for the betterment of all religions, cultures and castes.
  • Pray for solidarity and peaceful and amicable relationships among all religions, communities and states.
  • Pray for the Christian community in India, that God may grant them the wisdom, knowledge and protection to face what is ahead.
  • Pray for Indian Christian leaders and pastors, that they may equip the church for any challenges ahead.
  • Pray that India will be tolerant to all religions.
  • Pray for freedom of religion and a safe place to worship.
  • Pray for the decline of persecution and curtailment of extremist groups and activities.

Will you be a vital part of India's extraordinary story?

Every PHP 2,000 can give emergency food packs to two persecuted Christians (living in India’s rural areas).

Every PHP 3,000 can sponsor 20 Christians in India to attend (and be equipped through) a persecution-preparedness training.

Every PHP 4,750 can support a Christian community with sustainable livelihood projects (sewing machines, poultry, etc.) to help with their needs.​



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