Prime Minister Narendra Modi
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Reuters

A European Parliament member, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, has questioned Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'secular' credentials, saying the leader has a "highly problematic history of racism."

Izaskun Bilbao Barandica from Spain, who is part of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats of Europe (ALDE), called on the EU to address the "issue of inequality" in India, reported Zee News.

Barandica then referred to an interview by Modi as chief minister of Gujarat at the time of a communal riot that left "over 1,000 members of the Muslim community dead". She said Modi had said in the interview that his only regret was that he didn't manage the media better.

"During his electoral campaign, Modi reiterated his rhetoric on immigration, calling for all non-Hindus to leave India and go back to their own countries. India's population includes a large number of minority groups who typically live in extremely poor conditions," she said.

Barandica asked three questions under Rule 30:

"What steps will the EU take, in cooperation with the Indian Government, to address the issue of inequality in India?"

"Is this issue of social, racial and religious discrimination part of the ongoing EU-India Free Trade Agreement negotiations?

"Considering the fact that national policies on minorities could potentially pose a threat to peace and security in South Asia is the EU pursuing a collective agreement with countries in the region to address such concerns?"

Meanwhile, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg defended Modi's human rights record.

Clegg, who will lead a delegation to India in late August, said he will take Modi's promise on face value to "govern on behalf of all Indians".

Before his maiden visit to India, Clegg said: "In politics just as in life, I always take people in what they say at face value until it's suggested otherwise. He's been very clear that he sees it as part of his mandate - which was a huge democratic mandate, over 500 million people voted - as a mandate to govern the country as a whole.

"And given the sheer size and diversity and raucous variation of life in India, it seems to me obvious that India must, and can only, be successfully governed by administrations who want to stand up for the whole country and not only part of it."

Clegg added: "Everybody is familiar with the great, great cultural, historical and other links that bind our two nations together. There are more Indians living in this country than any other place in the world outside India. India invests more money into the United Kingdom than it does in the rest of the European Union put together".