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Bollywood urges voters to shun Modi’s party

MUMBAI: More than 50 Bollywood filmmakers, actors and writers on Wednesday urged Indians not to vote for the party of Hindu nationalist hard-liner Narendra Modi in the ongoing general election.
The group signed an appeal calling on Indians to choose a “secular” party, without naming Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Critics fear the BJP could stoke religious tensions if it comes to power.
The letter, endorsed by directors Imtiaz Ali, Mahesh Bhatt and Zoya Akhtar, actress Nandita Das and singer Shubha Mudgal, comes as the BJP is tipped to win the biggest share of votes in the election, with Modi becoming the next prime minister.
“The best thing about our country is its cultural diversity, its pluralism — the co-existence of a number of religions and ethnicities over centuries, and hence the blooming of multiple streams of intellectual and artistic thought,” the letter said.
“And, this has been possible only because Indian society has prided itself on being essentially secular in character, rejecting communal hatred, embracing tolerance.
“Today, that very sense of India is vulnerable.”
The letter, which appeared on the Mumbai Mirror newspaper’s website on Wednesday, called on Indians to vote for the secular party most likely to win in their constituencies.
Meanwhile, data showed Wednesday that turnout in India’s multi-phase election is so far almost eight percentage points higher than last time.