Narendra Modi increased its parliamentary majority in the May election and his new citizenship law has sparked protests across India.
The law grants persecuted people of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi religions eligibility for citizenship — while omitting Muslims.
New Delhi, Jan.2.– The omens for an electoral victory were unfavourable, given Narendra Modi’s openly discriminatory policies against Muslim and Christian minorities and his dire social and economic record.
Yet India’s Hindu nationalist prime minister was returned with an increased majority in May. In the parliamentary election, in which 900 million people (around a tenth of the global population) could vote, Modi and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) won 303 of the 543 seats, meaning his government has no need of the other parties in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition (see India’s election results).
During his campaign, Modi sidestepped awkward issues and diverted attention from India’s economy, currently at its most turbulent since the 1990s: unemployment is at a 40-year high and agriculture is in crisis; investment is down, as are exports despite a weakening rupee; inward direct investment has plummeted and consumption is depressed.
Modi’s 2014 manifesto had economic development at its core, but this year the emphasis was on security, including a promise to crack down on clandestine Bangladeshi migrants. He opportunistically made use of a terrorist attack in Pulwama (in the state of Jammu and Kashmir) in February in which more than 40 members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) died. A jihadist group based in Pakistan claimed responsibility; Modi ordered retaliatory air strikes on Pakistan; Islamabad downed an Indian plane. This allowed Modi to portray himself as India’s defender, bragging about his unprecedented boldness. His bellicose, nationalistic election campaign prompted 150 veterans, including former generals and admirals, to call on him to stop using the armed forces for political ends.
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