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India’s parliament has fewer Muslims as strength of Modi’s party grows

MALAPPURAM, India (AP) — Preventing Muslim migrants from gaining citizenship. Revoking the semi-autonomy of the country’s only Muslim-majority region. Building a Hindu temple where a violent mob razed a mosque.

These were political triumphs for Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the past decade, burnishing his reputation as a leader who prioritizes the interests India’s Hindu majority. For India’s 200 million Muslims, they highlight their waning political power in the world’s largest democracy.

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Tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India are not new, but they have gotten worse under Modi, whose ruling Bharatiya Janata Party touts a Hindu-nationalist ideology. And with Modi seemingly on the cusp of a third five-year term, the outlook for Muslim politicians — and citizens — is bleak. This year’s vote will be decided in June.

It’s not just that Modi has ramped up anti-Muslim rhetoric in campaign speeches. Ever since the BJP began its rise as a political force in the mid-1980s, the proportion of Muslim lawmakers in parliament and state legislatures has shrunk.

Muslim representation has fallen in the ruling BJP, and in opposition parties, too.

When Modi assumed power in 2014, the outgoing parliament had 30 Muslim lawmakers — and just one was a member of the BJP. Muslims now hold 25 out of 543 seats, and none belong to the BJP.

India has gone from being a country where Muslims were largely marginalized to one where they are “actively