In New Delhi, members of the Indian right-wing Hindu Sena group rallied in support of its occupation of Russia and Ukraine. Demonstrators marched through the Indian capital for nearly an hour, carrying banners reading “Russia, fight, we stand with you” and “Long live India-Russia relations.” Other posters openly supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine and “United Russia.”
Although the Hindu Sena is a small political group, it is present in 16 Indian states and has more than one million followers on social media. “Russia has always been a true friend of India. India should have been militarily in this war. Ukraine, which has always supported Pakistan, has also voted against our nuclear program,” Hindu Sena leader Vishnu Gupta told DW.
Why do so many Indians support Russia?
Although the protest in Delhi was an isolated incident, a significant section of the Indian population, especially through social media, expressed their support for Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. Richa Kapoor, a university student, says she feels sorry for the innocent victims in Ukraine, while the West considers Russia, which led to the invasion of Afghanistan, uncritical. “We should not be affected by the hypocrisy of the Western camp,” he told DW.
Lawyer Mahesh Kumar Agarwal, for his part, pointed out in an interview with the DW that the former Soviet Union would return to Russian control. A similar geopolitical concept known as “Ajant Bharat” (Undivided India) is supported by some far-right groups in India. They see the entire Indian subcontinent – from Afghanistan to Myanmar – as part of an “undivided” nation, centered on India.
Other Putin supporters cite historical ties with Russia, as well as other factors shaping India’s support for Russia, including the Soviet Union’s support for India during the 1971 war of independence in Bangladesh. Director of the Jagran Institute of Management and Mass Communication.
Leaders of India, on tight rope
Since Russia’s occupation of Ukraine three weeks ago, India has been on a tightrope, sidelining every UN referendum aimed at condemning Russia’s actions. This includes votes from the Security Council, the General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In addition to its historical and strategic relations with Russia, the fundamental principle of Indian foreign policy is the desire to maintain good and lasting relations with all major powers, including Russia.
You can see the similarities between Putin’s style and the style of the popular Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Both leaders exhibit a luxurious image, nationalists, dictators and strong hand leadership style,” Indian historian Rakesh Badapayal told DW.
Who opposes Russia in India?
However, there is a pressure group in India criticizing India’s refusal to comment on the war in Ukraine and has called on New Delhi to condemn Russia for occupying a sovereign nation.
“Russia is an ally, and there may be some legitimate security concerns, but India’s sudden silence would be seen as a disappointment to Ukraine and its allies. It is a shame that India remains silent,” he said. MP Sasi Tharoor in a recent interview with the Indian media.
“It is not good for a country like India, which wants to be a member of the UN Security Council, to be completely silent on internationally recognized policies,” he added.
Another Congress leader, Manish Tiwari, tweeted that India should stand with the Ukrainians against this “unprecedented and unjust occupation”. “Friends need to be told when things go wrong,” he said.
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