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Russia Says US Wants To ‘Complicate’ India’s General Elections, Interfere In Its Internal Affairs

FILE PHOTO: Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova speaks during a news conference in Moscow. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that the US is trying to interfere in India’s general elections. Zakharova’s remarks, which were relayed by RT news, come after a US federal commission’s report criticised New Delhi for alleged violations of religious freedom.

The foreign ministry spokesperson stated that Washington continued to make “unfounded accusations” about religious freedoms in India. She added that Washington’s actions constitute interference in India’s internal affairs.

“The reason [behind the US accusations] is to unbalance the internal political situation in India and complicate the general elections,” RT news, quoted her as saying.

The latest annual report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) renewed its recommendation to the US Department of State to declare India a “Country of Particular Concern.” It also stated concerns about “religious freedom” and accused the ruling BJP of reinforcing “discriminatory” nationalist policies.

“The government, led by [President Narendra Modi’s ruling] Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), reinforced discriminatory nationalist policies, perpetuated hateful rhetoric and failed to address communal violence,” it said. The report went on to add that this violence “disproportionately” affects Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, Jews and Adivasis, or indigenous peoples.

The Ministry of External Affairs attacked the US commission for attempting to “interfere” in India’s electoral exercise and continuing to indulge in “propaganda” against the country.

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Randhir Jaiswal, spokesperson of the ministry, said last week. “The US Commission on International Religious Freedom is known as a biased organisation with a political agenda. They continue to publish their propaganda on India masquerading as part of an annual report.”

“We really have no expectations that the USCIRF will even seek to understand India’s diverse, pluralistic and democratic ethos,” Jaiswal added.

The report’s observations come along with President Biden’s recent remarks calling India “xenophobic.” Speaking at a fundraiser,  the US president had said. “Why is China stalling so badly economically? Why is Japan having trouble? Why is Russia? Why is India? Because they’re xenophobic. They don’t want immigrants.”

Biden also claimed in his remarks that India’s economy was faltering.

In a rebuttal of the US president’s remarks, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that first of all India’s economy was not faltering. Reacting to Biden’s remarks on “xenophobia” he said. “India has always been a very unique country… I would say actually, in the history of the world, that it’s been a society which has been very open… different people from different societies come to India.”

Jaishankar gave an example of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). He highlighted how the CAA, introduced by Prime Minister Modi’s government, showcased India’s welcoming approach to the world.

The White House later attempted to play down the president’s comments. National security spokesman John Kirby said he was making a wider point on US immigration policy and denied they were meant in a derogatory sense.

“Our allies and partners know well in tangible ways how President Biden values them, their friendship, their co-operation,” Kirby said. “They understand how much he completely and utterly values the idea of alliances and partnerships.”

(Reuters and other agencies)