India’s Narendra Modi goes on hunger strike
Protest is part of showdown between political parties ahead of next year’s national election
Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, has embarked on a 24-hour hunger strike after his rivals staged a similar protest earlier this week.
Opposition politicians went without food for five hours on Monday during a demonstration in Delhi against the government’s treatment of low caste Indians.
The tit-for-tat protests are part of a “growing showdown” between Modi’s ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) and the Congress party ahead of national elections next year, AFP reports.
Modi has accused the opposition of holding parliament to ransom by frequently disrupting legislative sessions, while Congress says he has done little to improve the lives of ordinary people.
Though the Prime Minister remains popular with voters, his government is facing mounting criticism for failing to boost employment and tackle inequality.
The opposition protest was undermined, however, when photos emerged of senior congress officials tucking into a chickpea curry just before starting their hunger strike, The Times says.
“Once nobly symbolic of India’s struggle for independence, used by Mahatma Gandhi to deplore violence and resist British rule, this week’s hunger strikes have been met with widespread ridicule,” the newspaper says.