Can liberals rule a country like India?
General election in India : Modi wins in the largest democracy in the world
The last picture Narendra Modi had published before the end of the month-long Indian parliamentary term is of ambiguous symbolism. The man who took power in Delhi five years ago with the election slogan “The good days are coming” is sitting meditating in a cave in the Himalayas. He is wrapped in a saffron-colored cloth, the color of his Hindu nationalist party BJP - and traditionally the color of renunciation.
This should show that the Prime Minister is relieved of the dispute between the parties, always in the service of his country, almost on the way to holiness. But you could also interpret the picture differently. Because the promised economic reforms were only partially successful, the 68-year-old Modi changed his strategy. Instead of being an economic liberal like at the beginning, he now presented himself as the highest “Chowkidar” (“Guardian”) of the nation. Hard on the enemies of India, hard on corruption and hard on yourself.
With success. The Bharatiya Janata party appears to remain in power with a comfortable majority for its coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The BJP was even able to slightly increase the number of its seats. The opposition Congress Party also grew, but fell far short of its own expectations.
Charisma, talent for speech and a modern organization
"I've voted for Congress all my life, but this time I voted for Modi," says Suresh Das, a Delhi chef. “He is a strong leader and good for India.” Modi's strength is based on charisma, a tough speech talent, decision-making power and his modern party organization, but also on the weakness of the Congress Party, which ruled the country for 49 years after independence.
To this day, it has not been able to break away from the Gandhi Nehru dynasty, which claims the party leadership to inherit. But their representatives became weaker and weaker over the generations. Her top candidate Rahul Gandhi, the grandson of the authoritarian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was murdered in 1984, is a likeable softie who prefers long discussions instead of quick decisions. His proposal to introduce an unconditional basic income to combat poverty did not convince voters.
His sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra intervened in the election campaign at the last minute. She looks astonishingly like her grandmother Indira. But that was of no use either? Around 600 million people in India are under the age of 25 and have never seen Indira Gandhi. In 2019, the steadily growing middle class does not expect memories, but opportunities.
According to World Bank figures, the proportion of Indians living in poverty halved between 2006 and 2016 to 27.5 percent. In addition to social advancement, those who are better off are also increasingly interested in other issues. This includes a reflection on an identity as a Hindu, which had been pushed back during the long history of Muslim invasion and British colonial rule. Many may be skeptical of the Hindu rule propagated by parts of the BJP, but a little more Hinduism is allowed for the followers of the majority religion, who make up around 80 percent of the population. What Rahul Gandhi also recognized and during the election campaign came out as "Shiv-Bhakt" (follower of the god Shiva) and visited temples diligently.
Quick response to the terrorist attacks
When it became clear at the beginning of this year that, despite some successful reforms, Indian economic growth was barely higher than under Modi's previous government and that the number of jobs has not increased since 2014 either, the election campaign became increasingly dirty. Lynchings of Muslims and Dalits (the former untouchables), who are often falsely accused of slaughtering the sacred cows, have also occurred in the past, but they have increased in the past four years, says the organization IndiaSpend, which refers to Specializes in data journalism.
An election gift for Modi was a February terrorist attack on an Indian army convoy in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. Modi ruled quickly and decisively: for the first time he attacked terrorist camps in Pakistan, from which Delhi believed the attack originated. The election campaign had found a new spin: Modi as the guardian of the nation, who was the first to venture to oppose Pakistan with conventional weapons without triggering a nuclear war.
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