Modi and BJP won big, being the first party to gain an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha since 1984, when Congress swept the polls after Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination. While many commentators opposed to BJP and Modi, including INSAF Bulletin, have indicated that massive victory of BJP in terms of seats was based on only 31% of the national vote, this fact is characteristic of Indian elections that are based on the first-past-the-post system.


Congress benefited from this feature in the past and we need not deny credit to the BJP for its achievement now.  It shows that in contrast to other parties, BJP prepared its election strategy much more carefully and backed it up with a massive advertising campaign made possible by the largesse of its corporate donors. In addition, Modi went about his campaign like a US presidential candidate in stark contrast to the feckless and lackluster approach of the Congress. In the last stages of the campaign, BJP pivoted to its traditional anti-minority rhetoric which consolidated the Hindu vote cutting across caste lines and paid dividends in UP and Bihar.


Now that Modi’s coronation has been completed and the government has been formed, one needs to look to the future. No doubt, Modi and his advisers made a smart move by inviting leaders of all the SAARC countries, including Nawaz Sharif, to his swearing-in. If this leads to future steps towards a more durable peace between India and Pakistan it should be welcomed by all.  However, Modi’s victory was made possible by the outpouring of support from the middle-class and lower middle-class youth in the urban and semi-urban areas who believed in the promises he made of economic growth, providing jobs, ending corruption, and so on. Whether and to what extent he can do so remains to be seen.  What his promises largely consisted of was a larger and more thorough capitalist orientation of the economy, led by the biggest corporate groups, based on the so-called Gujarat model.  This approach seemed to have struck a chord across much of the country, due perhaps to massive and creative advertising, but to what extent it succeeds depends on the global market and support from international investors. In addition this approach offers the domestic corporates a changed and much weaker regulatory climate especially as regards approvals for large mining projects and other industrial ventures that can negatively impact the already fragile Indian environment. How much regulation will be weakened and local movements against foreign corporate land takeovers will be crushed will become known over the next year.


In essence, this approach is not different from what Congress and UPA have been promoting over the last decade, although it is likely to dispense with or water down some of the social programs that UPA promoted like the rural employment guarantee act, the food security bill, and the land acquisition bill, which Modi vociferously criticized during the campaign as sources of government corruption.  In addition to the economy, it also remains to be seen how BJP approaches its traditional issues of the Ayodhya Ram mandir, Art. 370 and so on.


Now is the time for the left and democratic forces, including particularly the secular groups, not to mourn but to organize, to defend the secular fabric of Indian society based on the Constitution.

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