Commentators and columnists try to painting final week’s legislative elections in India’s capital, Delhi, as a defeat for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In any case, his Hindu majoritarian Bharatiya Janata Get together gained solely eight seats out of 70, whereas the Aam Aadmi Get together took all the remaining.
However they’re unsuitable, each on the passing matter of the election and its impact on the longer-term standing of Modi: regardless of the acrimonious, polarized and even violent election marketing campaign, and the incessant protests across the nation in opposition to his discriminatory citizenship invoice, Modi nonetheless stands unchallenged.
In Delhi, the BJP truly improved the variety of seats it gained, up from three in 2015. Extra considerably, its vote share went up from 32% to nearly 39%. That is the best the BJP has had in Delhi since 1993. The vote share of its important opposition on the nationwide degree, the Congress Get together, fell from 9.7% to four.three%. This doesn’t sound like a complete defeat for Modi.
Modi’s reputation among the many majority Hindu inhabitants within the nation is so excessive that many opposition leaders, even throughout a severe financial slowdown and large unemployment disaster, are afraid of criticizing him. His invoice to stop Muslim immigrants from sure nations attaining Indian citizenship has been well-received by most Indians.
Apart from Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, no opposition chief overtly focused Modi whereas campaigning in Delhi. AAP shunned criticizing him or his majoritarian insurance policies. As a substitute, its technique was to make the election about securing one other time period for Arvind Kejriwal as Delhi’s Chief Minister, so he can proceed his welfare insurance policies.
Indian politics has turn into polarized on the idea of faith, and Modi continues to regulate political narratives within the nation. He’s seen by many Hindus as a powerful and incorruptible chief who takes courageous selections to guard their pursuits. They could vote for different events to run state-level governments, however they see Modi as the one chief able to main a Hindu-India.
To Modi’s base, fanned by the prime minister, Muslims will not be loyal to the nation and are accountable for hindering India’s progress towards turning into a worldwide energy. Of their minds, the disputed territory of Kashmir belongs to not Pakistan however to India — and never even to Kashmiris themselves, as they’re Muslims.
In the meantime, for political causes, Modi has realized it’s higher to overplay the battle with Pakistan — the place India has each army and diplomatic superiority — and to downgrade the rivalry with China, the place it finds it tougher to compete, not least due to its personal financial slowdown.
Modi has been sensible in utilizing the Muslim, Kashmir and Pakistan playing cards to outwit his opponents.
None of his majoritarian coverage selections are being overtly challenged by the most important political events, who worry alienating the nation’s Hindus. These selections embody a ban on a Muslim type of divorce; assist for a Supreme Courtroom ruling handing over the land of a demolished mosque to construct a Hindu temple; and his demotion and splitting of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two lower-ranking territories.
Equally, opposition events are criticizing the discriminatory citizenship act however will not be overtly participating within the protests in opposition to it, that are led by Muslim girls and college students. In Delhi, the place the protesters have been sitting for over two months, no opposition chief, together with Kejriwal, has visited them to indicate solidarity.
Modi’s anti-minority insurance policies have invited worldwide criticism and a few pockets of loud protests in India, however have additionally enhanced his stature as a pacesetter who can shield the curiosity of the Hindu majority and put Muslims and different minorities of their place. He can model any opposition chief anti-India or anti-Hindu in the event that they object.
The malleable media and lack of opposition unity have allowed Modi to regulate the political narrative for his personal profit.
The outcomes of state elections shouldn’t be seen as a take a look at of Modi’s reputation and electability in India, which is now underneath the spell of majoritarian machismo. As a current survey discovered, Modi continues to be India’s hottest chief as we speak. The world will make a mistake in contemplating the results of the Delhi election as a loss for Modi or his model of right-wing majoritarianism.
Ashok Swain is a professor of peace and battle analysis at Uppsala College, Sweden.