The results of the recently concluded 16th general elections in India have defied the prediction of a large number of analysts who argued that no single party would get a clear majority. This trend got established from the 1996 general elections and continued in the subsequent elections in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2009. The coalitions of several diverse political parties, especially with strong state-based parties, ruled at the Union level during this period. In the 2014 elections, the BJP got a simple majority and if the seats of its partners are counted, the number of its seats rises to over 330. The coalition that comes into existence in India now is a pre-election arrangement that will be dominated by the BJP rather than post-election coalitions of 1996-2014 that used to be created with the support of the state-based parties.
The electorate has given a clear verdict in favour of the political right with Hindu orientations. The liberal left parties have performed poorly. This trend has a similarity with Pakistan where the political right has performed better than liberal-left political parties. In the case of India, some state-based parties have maintained their political eminence in their respective states but their ability to influence the BJP at the Union level is limited as the BJP and its allies got a comfortable majority and this performance is spread across the country.
The Congress party has suffered a most devastating electoral defeat. It is worse than its defeat in the 1977 election when it got more seats than what it got in 2014. In 1977, its electoral performance in southern parts of India enabled it to get more than 100 seats; it was beaten badly in northern states. Now in 2014 it faces the worst-ever challenge to its future.
The Congress had been continuously in power since May 2004 with Manmohan Singh as the prime minister of an unwieldy coalition. This government’s inability to sustain India’s growth rate at over eight per cent adversely affected its future prospects. Corruption charges against some union ministers regarding information technology licencing and coal mine contracts added to the problems of the Congress government.
The Congress’s problems increased with popular mobilisation against corruption and for better governance at the societal level, especially by Anna Hazare, whose anti-corruption movement reflected negatively on the Congress government. The rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also swept away support from the Congress in northern parts of India. In the Delhi Assembly elections, the Congress party lost badly after holding power for three terms. The AAP leader became Delhi’s chief minister but he could not manage the well-entrenched bureaucratic and economic interests, resulting in his resignation. The failure of the AAP to govern Delhi did not return the alienated voters to the Congress, most of them moved on to the BJP.
The Congress also faced a leadership crisis. It attempted to play the ‘Gandhi card’ by moving Rahul Gandhi to the front of the party. He was accompanied by his sister, Priyanka, and his mother, Sonia. This did not work this time because the person in the lead, Rahul, lacked political experience and he could not cultivate an image of the Congress saviour. There was no towering personality in the Congress to get the party through the troubled electoral politics. Manmohan Singh had already been written off because he was to quit the office after the election no matter who won.
The BJP, under the leadership of Narendra Modi, stepped into the political gap. Modi had built a negative as well as positive reputation on an all India-basis. His major success was that he overwhelmed opposition to his leadership within the BJP and mobilised support of hard-line Hindu groups like the RSS and others that admired his tough policies on communal issues in his home state of Gujarat.
The focus of the Modi government is going to be domestic, working to realise the promise of development and economic growth. As the BJP election campaign was funded by big and middle-level business and commercial interests, it will find it difficult to serve the big and middle-level business while at the same time keeping the poor of India satisfied. How can the new government ensure socio-economic justice to the poor? Will it continue with the food subsidies for the poor introduced by the Congress?
The Modi government faces the challenge of operationalisation of the notion of Hindutva in a manner that a balance is maintained between India as a secular state and the narrow and religion-oriented worldview of the Hindu hard-line groups, commonly known as the Sangh Parivar. Any tilt towards the latter would cause problems with Indian Muslims and it could also increase caste conflicts in many parts of India.
The current stalemate in Pakistan-India relations will continue because the initial focus of the Indian government would be domestic. Relations cannot be worse than what these are now: suspension of dialogue and limited trade. Pakistan is expected to ask for the resumption of the dialogue process but the Modi government will in the initial stages talk only about terrorism and trade.
The Modi government can freeze India-Pakistan relations at the current stalemated level. However, it cannot afford to accentuate tension and conflict with Pakistan if it wants to project India as a big player at the global level, rapidly promote societal development, economic growth and serve business interests. Some Hindu groups may pressure the government to adopt a hard-line towards Indian Muslims and play tough with Pakistan. Such a policy will reinforce Modi’s image as a hard-line Hindu leader and adversely affect his regional and global agenda. As the option of war is too dangerous in view of nuclear deterrence between the two countries, the Modi government has limited choices for playing tough with Pakistan for a long time.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2014.
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Well said! For your advice to Indians, please note the term 'Hindu' which was givent by the Persians to the folks found in the sub-continent practicing a specific culture and the worship of deities similar to that in antique Mesopotamia.
Sir, you missed out two features, namely to show to Indian muslims his charming face, and to the world outside India his team will start a diplomatic offensive including in the social media. This will be followed by Hindutwa steps to intriduce compulsary daily pooja prayers for all citizens and to stop calling themselves as Indians.
@Akbar: Proves that Pakistanis are shivering with the word 'Modi". Next!
"to project India as a big player at the global level". Ask any Pakistani and they will drown you with that thought.
"As the option of war is too dangerous in view of nuclear deterrence between the two countries" Stopping harping on that because its fallout will also effect your higher, lower, sweeter than honey country from the 'mushroom".
Today and for decades now, Islam has been and is the fastest growing religion in the world. This is despite the desperate attempts by the powers in the West and their Hindu buddies to link Islam to 9/11, Mumbai attacks and 7/7 all of which were for political reasons mostly related to the Kashmir, Israel-Palestinian conflict, and the West’s inglorious meddling in the political affairs of Muslim majority countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Examples include Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt, and the list goes on and on. Infact, the rate of conversion to Islam increased sharply since 9/11. As people seek to understand how Islam is accused of being the reason behind the attacks, they instead find truth in the message of Islam. Even guards in Gitmo have converted to Islam just by interacting with so-called “terrorists”. So instead of seeking for ways to demonize Islam, the Hindus should stay out of the political life of Pakistan and help find political solutions to the problems their injustice has caused.
I think the columnists like Mr. Rizvi are reading too much in Modi victory and being unnecessarily alarmists. With such scary analyses appearing in our media I am afraid our Military will now ask for more money cutting into our development funds and may even endanger the civilian authority. The new Indian Prime Minister will spend a lot of his time in fixing the Indian economy. That means good opportunity for a robust bilateral trade with India to boost both economies. India being a rising superpower in the region must behave like one and the Modi administration, I assume, will not do anything to destabilize the current international paradigms.
@Akbar: Clinging on to wishful thinking?
India as a nation of Hindu’s was established in 1947 when muslims in the subcontinent were given the land the call Pakistan.
Hindus let people live in their country freely as long as they are peaceful and follow the laws of the country.
Without a doubt, every country has its majority population and majority of the truly democratic countries in this world allows other minorities live amongst them as long as they are peaceful and follow the laws of the country. Problems arise when minorities want to establish their will or ask for special treatment as is the case with muslims in India.
Simple universal truth.
@Akbar we have become so accustomed with rickety coalition govts and propped up PMs that we have forgotten what authority a PM, who has been elected by masses with full majority, can exercise.the best thing about Modi is that NDA allies will be contended with whatever ministries are mercifully given to them.every BJP parliamentarian knows that this landslide victory is solely due to one person,and no prizes for guessing his name..even if some people are dis-heartened,they will not vent their feeling,because Modi is a strict disciplinarian,a man with an iron fist.the council of ministers is going to be minimal,in accordance with the ''minimum govt maximum governance'' idea of Mr Modi.
Phase 1: Modi will select its Cabinet. Phase 2: All others who will fail to get appointments will feel dejected and will go in initial silence. Phase 3: The voters will be looking for simple solutions to their complex problems. The expectations will be of miracles where the reality will check in. Phase 4: Media will not get TRPs if they do not sensationalise the moves, dissents, internal fights and frictions. Phase 5: The silent BJP dejected leaders will become vocal, the rest media will make them vocal. Result will be a front a fwd block. Phase 6: Modi will learn the Intl Relations with China, US, Russia, Iran and the Middle East and the complexity of going closer to one and annoying the other. US will push for opening up of the Indian economy for US imports while giving way to Pak in Afghanistan to corner India. China will look for opportunities in India while giving weapons and technology to Pakistan. Phase 7: Any non preferential treatment to Muslims in India will be positioned as communal which will cause donestic law n order instability and will have economic cost. Phase 8: Corruption is in our politician genes. Any scandal will erupt any time. That will start the post Tsunami cycle. Phase 9: A coalition based Govt in 2019.
Haven't been following the Indian elections at all but it looks like the people in both countries chose to side with the right wing political parties primarily because the left wing parties were unable to deliver in their previous governments and faced serious corruption charges. Dr Rizvi seems to be right in saying that the current stalemate between the two countries is expected to prevail primarily because the focus of both governments is on serious domestic issues.
Good and balanced analysis for a change. Considering the tall promises made to voters and focus on economic growth and employment, foreign policy comes lower down in the list of priorities. Challenges are many and expectations sky high, meeting them will not be easy.
@Ajay: That has changed. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/bjp-and-narendra-modi-have-won-muslim-votes-too-clerics/articleshow/35251639.cms
We must boycott India.
Well there is always the option of playing hard through "non-state" actors and by using sub-conventional warfare. Modi has the right ingredients to make sure India's enemies are given proper answer in case of any misadventure!
Young educated Indian Muslims understand the irrelevance of religion. It is the old fogs, mostly the illiterates, poor and religious die hards in belts of UP and Bihar who are screwing India by voting en-block and allowing illiterate Imams to play devious political role that should clearly eb made illegal by a new law. These Muslims don't vote for development or social causes. They vote against development not just because of 20020 riots because they have been voting like that even before 2002 riots. They vote for those parties who caused 700 riots in UP alone. In contrast Gujarat was a one-off incident, that also, triggered by a cruel action of Muslims in burning whole bogies of trapped passengers.
Author got a few things right & a few things wrong here. First, Modi's goal is not to increase India's standing or importance in global affairs, now that is going to be a definite result of his domestic policies. His goals are mainly domestic- schools, hospitals, roads, cleanliness, corruption, inflation.
Secondly, Modi's India will have no interest in accentuating any tension with Pakistan nor does Modi need to give any focus on foreign policy because the foreign policy as it stands today has been the same since 1947 and is very very sturdy. All Modi needs to do is remove the chinks developed by Congress during years of its misrule. SOme immediate major chinks are- infiltration from neighboring states and creating disincentives for terror strikes inside India. As far as improving ties with Pakistan is concerned, India has been doing all it could, the ball has been in Pakistan;s court for a long time. India has provided a way out that lets begin with trade and keep it distinct from other issues. TRade with India is not just a win-win situation for both countries but a 3 wins fro Pakistan and 1 win for India. Pakistan will stand to benefit more. This is a gift from India to Pakistan and India has already taken the steps from its side. Conversely not having trade with India makes a minor difference to India but a major impact to Pakistan's well being in different ways.
Thirdly, there is no need to ope-rationalize Hindutva because the main theme of that is a)Remove pseudo secularism where the most rabid political parties get away with votes by playing communal and caste politics; b) introduce equal opportunity for all sections of society c)create disincentives for trouble makers of any kind- domestic or international. Hindutva means protect the interests of India.
Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi : In my opinion if the Pakistani holding Swiss or other Off-Shore Bank Accounts find that their is even AN IOTA OF A CHANCE that their Foreign Holdings will be jeopardized then be sure THEY WILL MIGRATE TO ONE OF THE MANY American or European Countries! Same will be the case with Indian holding Swiss or other Off-Shore Bank Accounts and finding themselves in similar circumstances! . Cheers