Narendra Modi's Upsurge In India



Photo Source: The Economist

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront


Narendra Modi’s second walloping win, in the Indian elections, is something, the country had not seen, since Indira’s Gandhi’s win, in 1971. 

It also meant that the rival party, Indian National Congress, struggling to gain power, for ten years now, had no easy solutions, for their problems.

Modi’s critics, who questioned many of his policies, and enmity against supposed minority supremacy, despite his assurances, of an inclusive, and economically stable India, cannot deny, that his win, for the prime minister’s seat, is a rarity.

Before the final election verdict, Modi headed to a hermit cave, at the foot of the Himalayan glacier. He insisted cameramen to snap him, at the famous Kedarnath Temple, at deep meditation, cloaked in a saffron shawl, almost like a Sadhu, or a Sanyasi.

After a resounding win, it may be perceived that Indians, who voted in this election, had no other alternative in mind. In other words, it means that the popularity of Congress, from a ‘grand old party’, had stooped so low, that many journalists, during Modi’s election win jubilation started believing that the thought of Indian National Congress, perceived, as a successful national party, with its appeasing centrist, pro-poor, minority encompassing, and secularist credentials, would soon be in tatters. 

This time around, in the elections, Congress didn’t’ even have the luxury, to cross a hundred seats. Rahul Gandhi, second time around, failed miserably, for a distinctive, egalitarian platform. Does it also mean that Rahul Gandhi, recognised as a charismatic youth leader, in many quarters of India, didn’t have the mantle, to perform better, after recognising the failures, of the past? As of now, almost everyone, in the Congress, is shifting the blame on Rahul Gandhi, who wanted to alleviate poverty, and initiate several reforms, in an angry, divided, and ambitious India. In fact, he lost the Amethi seat, his political backyard, to BJP’s Smriti Irani.

According to an Oped by Zoya Hasan, in The Hindu, the win for Modi, in this election, was due to two factors, namely ‘Hindutva consolidation’ and ‘majoritarian triumphalism’. It was not based on any commitment for economic development. The party had also fielded candidates, such as Pragya Thakur, indicted on terror charges, giving rise to new controversies. Infact, the New York Times, had called Modi ‘dangerously incompetent’ and ‘ a divisive figure’, ushering an era of dark politics, and that the voters had chosen ‘a prolonged nightmare’. The British newspaper, Guardian, went further, in its criticism,  as it believed that despite Modi being a charismatic campaigner, he had deployed ‘terrible false claims’,  ‘partisan facts’, and that the election result was bad, for a multi-party democracy, in India, because BJP does lip service to reduce the ‘yawning inequalities that disfigure India’.

Before the election, several thousand farmers had rallied against his policies, and failed assurances. Despite many political watchers, hailing Modi, for making India, the fastest growing economy, in the world, the reality still remains that the GDP didn’t cross double figures, in comparison with Manmohan Singh’s tenure. In Singh’s UPA tenure, the economy had once edged past ten per cent. Even if one favours Modi’s tenure, for economic growth, as per average GDP growth, the fact remains that the Indian economy is just growing 0.6% faster, in comparison, with Manmohan Singh’s tenure, as per the data, reflected by Business Today.

Political analysts, who favoured Modi’s timeliness, and strategy, of cultural nationalism, social conservatism, and right-wing politics, believed that he had, somehow, remained thoroughly existent, in the minds of common Indians, as a chaiwala, or a chowkidar. The latter believers won, while the former lost. As an incumbent prime minister, the celebrations, and sorrows, will start now. That’s why, it is not surprising that during a 2017 poll, it was revealed that Indians have the greatest desire for an autocratic rule.

Today, BJP, is the largest party in India, maybe the largest political party, in the world, in terms of membership. It’s success today is palpable, in lieu with its founding fathers, and thinkers. In states, such as West Bengal, called as the ‘red fortress’, due to the dominance of Communism, the vote share of the BJP, had soared, up to forty per cent. It had also made significant inroads, in Odisha, and the northeast. In summary, BJP won more than fifty per cent of votes, in sixteen states, its best performance, since inception. In this election, BJP had a ten per cent increase, in its vote share, despite the anti-incumbency element. During power, BJP managed to have control over several leading media corporates, and didn’t have a shortage of various resources. In fact, all opinion polls, favoured the BJP, while an opinion poll, compiled by India Today, had been up to the mark.

As per audit reports and income tax reports, submitted to Electoral Commission of India, BJP was the biggest beneficiary of electoral bonds, gaining almost ninety-five per cent, of the share, worth around two hundred twenty-two crores. The whole process had alarmed the regional parties, and other parties, including the Congress, in the opposition.

According to an article published in The Hindu, written by Shiv Visvanathan, leftism and liberalism, in India, are a distant dream. Modi, according to him, won, due to his appeal, in urban, middle-class populations, that he managed to ‘Hinduise’. This identification became the reason of BJP’s empowerment, a political party, which believes India should not be called backward, or a third world. Whether one agrees, or not agrees to this thought, Modi had remained instrumental, by staying relevant, for the anxieties, and aspirations, of the majority Hindu voters. Some people also started believing that Modi’s words were populist, because they went beyond social and caste divisions, despite numerous episodes of lynching against Muslims, in his rule, and the party displaying a pompous show, that Muslims came from a generation of outsiders, and thus, were deemed, to be treated, as second class citizens.

According to Ajay Gudavarthy, in an article, published in The Wire: ‘this victory is not merely about the organisational structure, and electoral calculations – this victory is more moral than political. It is more about psychological warfare than about social transformation, The BJP managed to expose the tenuous link between social policy and electoral choices, and sold social policy in terms that actively spoke to the beneficiaries state of mind’.

As of now, Indian Muslims, after Modi’s win, think that they are on a losing end, and have been disowned, by country's new political developments. In the 16th Lok Sabha election, Muslim representation had dipped to its lowest, so far, at twenty-two seats. Indian Muslims, had their highest vote share, back in 1980, when the community had gained around forty-nine seats.





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