The Big Worry About India's Surprising Election Results

Prime Minister Modi wins big, and minority groups are worried about Hindu-first policies
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2019 9:00 AM CDT
The Big Worry About India's Surprising Election Results
A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter puts vermillion powder on a cutout of Narendra Modi during celebrations of the party's victory in Kolkata , India, Thursday, May 23, 2019.   (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

The final results are not in, but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on track for what amounts to a landslide re-election win. The scope of the victory is a surprise, per the New York Times, with Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, leading in 300 of parliament's 543 districts, up from the 282 seats it won five years ago. Modi, then, will have a strong mandate for his second five-year term to push his pro-business and national security themes. "Together we will build a strong and inclusive India,” a triumphant Modi declared on Twitter, but it's the "inclusive" part that is already drawing concerns. Four takes:

  • Guardian: "The emphatic victory will be greeted with dismay among some members of religious minority groups, who have voiced fears that a returned BJP government would be further emboldened to prosecute its Hindu nationalist agenda, including controversial citizenship-status checks to root out unauthorized migrants in border states."
  • Wall Street Journal: "Some expect Mr. Modi to double down on his populist and Hindu nationalist tendencies," per the main story. "The BJP seemed to take a hard right turn this year. During this campaign its candidates spoke less about development, jobs, and reform and more about the issues that resonate with Hindu nationalists, such as banning the slaughter of cows and ending special treatment for the country’s huge Muslim population, which makes up about 14% of the country."
  • Reuters: "Making good on his promise of unity will be difficult as the BJP campaign was often divisive, and members of the minority Muslim community expressed fears that they were being treated as second-class citizens."
  • BBC: "Many also see this election as a battle for India's identity and the protection of minorities. A strident—and at times violent—Hindu nationalism has become mainstream in the past five years, with increased attacks against minorities, including the lynching of dozens of Muslims accused of smuggling cows."
(More India stories.)

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