Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused to force the resignation of a government minister who made anti-Muslim comments at a political rally this week. But Modi has said that what the woman said is not acceptable.
Modi tried to resolve a political drama Friday that has largely shut down Indian Parliament for four days, urging members of the upper house to accept Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s apology.
But opposition lawmakers have refused. They want Jyoti removed from India's council of ministers on the grounds her comments go against the country's secular constitution.
Jyoti told voters at a campaign rally in Delhi this week that they must "decide whether [they] want a government of those born of (Hindu god) Ram, or those born illegitimately."
Political analysts say the political impasse threatens to derail Modi’s legislative agenda.
Critics say Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a strong bias against Muslims in India. The critics view Jyoti's speech as evidence of a broader plan to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda in a country where Muslims make up more than 13 percent of the population of 1.2 billion people.
Jyoti is one of scores of BJP first-time deputies elected in Modi's landslide victory this May.