(Men stand in a line to cast their vote outside a polling station during the general election, in Shahpur in Muzaffarnagar district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh April 10, 2014. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee)

Manoj Balyan wants Narendra Modi to become India’s next prime minister when results of a general election are released next month, and not because of the pro-business opposition leader’s record as a credible economic manager.

Instead, the property broker and village chieftain is drawn to Modi’s Hindu nationalist side, believing the candidate will strip privileges from India’s minority Muslim population.

“With Modi taking office, Muslims will automatically feel the pressure. They will not dare to raise their voice,” said Balyan, 42, to nods of approval from a group of friends.

Such views are common in settlements around the sugarcane belt of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, which was hit by deadly religious strife last year.