State Elections in India are a Test for Modi

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Some 280 million Indians will vote in state elections in a test for Prime Minister Modi and his divisive brand of Hindu nationalism.

  • Voters will go to polls in India on Thursday for the beginning of a series of elections in five states, including in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The elections are a test of political strength for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist party, the BJP, which controls four of the states in which elections will be held.
  • Dissatisfaction with Modi’s handling of the pandemic and the economic fallout have dented his popularity. But Modi nevertheless remains one of the country’s most popular politicians.
  • That is in part due to his divisive band of Hindu-nationalist politics. In a Hindu-majority country of 1.4 billion, Modi’s BJP is exploiting long-standing religious divisions.
  • The BJP has marginalized the country’s Muslim minority and fomented religious disputes to whip up support among many Hindus. Hindu nationalists call themselves the “true sons of the soil.”
  • In a country with a dreadful history of communal violence, it’s a very dangerous tactic. A poor result for the BJP in upcoming state elections may only increase Modi’s reliance on it.
The Economist
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