As India’s mammoth election enters a new phase, the country’s Muslim population may be watching on with concern as the prime minister casts his vote. There are 200 million Muslims in India, and some believe they have been targeted by far-right mobs tacitly supported by the government.

By Neville Lazarus

Narendra Modi has cast his vote in the Indian general election amid growing anxiety among minority communities.

The prime minister voted at a school in Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat, calling on “countrymen” to “vote in large numbers” as the third phase of the 44-day election gets under way.

Almost a billion people are registered to vote, with Mr Modi running for a third term in office and expecting to win.

But the likely prospect of his victory may concern the country’s Muslims, who make up 14% of the population and feel they have been targeted by right-wing mobs tacitly supported by the government.

Mr Modi stirred the debate in his campaign rally in Rajasthan last month, accusing opposition party Congress of appeasement politics over its suggestion to levy inheritance tax to redistribute wealth.

The leader went on the offensive, changing tact in his campaign to attack the opposition for having a pro-Muslim bias.

He said: “When they were in power, they said Muslims have the first right over the nation’s wealth.

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