Himanta Biswa Sarma, a BJP politician, and Assam State Chief Minister, criticized former U.S. President Barack Obama over India’s treatment of its Muslim minority population during an official state visit.
In response to Rohini Singh’s tweet, Sarma suggested that Indian police prioritize caring for the many “Hussain Obama” in India, which was likely a pointed jab towards the country’s Muslim population. With Sarma’s misspelling of Obama’s middle name and criticism of the American leader, this incident has brought attention to India’s Hindu nationalist platform, mistreatment of Muslim minority rights, and declining press freedom.
Amidst these human rights concerns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was once banned from the U.S. for alleged encouragement of religious violence, is on an official state visit and has become the first Indian leader to address Congress twice. Obama, in an interview with CNN, emphasized the need to protect India’s minority populations and to challenge troubling trends, warning that failure to do so could pull the country apart.
In March, Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Indian National Congress party, was sentenced to two years imprisonment for defaming Modi during a 2019 campaign rally.
During Modi’s first solo news conference, when reporters asked about human rights issues, Modi assured that there is no discrimination based on caste, creed, age, or geography in India.
Meanwhile, a tweet by Himanta Biswa Sarma, a BJP leader and the current Chief Minister of Assam, ignited a wave of criticism affirming Sarma’s implicit bias against Muslims. The controversial tweet, which included the middle name of former President Barack Obama, was seen by many as a tactic to twist Obama’s statement into one made by a Muslim. The dissemination of such divisive narratives by a leader with constitutional power reveals the concerning views of mainstream BJP politicians toward the Muslim community.