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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses supporters. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses supporters at Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters, New Delhi, India, May 23, 2019 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

After Whipping Up Nationalism to Win a Landslide in India, Can Modi Tone It Down?

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Bharatiya Janata Party owes its dominating win in India’s general election to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is being sworn in for the second time today. The right-wing, Hindu nationalist BJP seemingly sought every vote in his name, as if Modi were running in every electoral district in the country. It worked, as many voters made their decision based on who they wanted as their next prime minister, rather than as their representative in parliament. It helped, too, that the opposition remained divided and undecided on whom to project as its candidate for prime minister.

In winning 303 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament, the BJP not only secured a rare majority on its own for the second time in a row, but improved on its performance in the 2014 elections, when it secured 282 seats. Before 2014, it had been 30 years since a single political party had won enough seats in parliament to form its own national government. Modi’s new government has even more power in parliament this time, since the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance have 351 seats in all. ...

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