The nationalist leader will be prime minister, alone or in coalition: not only the Hindu vote, but also hope reverberates in the countryside, the “economic miracle” of his state, Gujarat.
If official counts don’t contradict the exit polls that confirmed survey results, Narendra Modi will be the next Indian Prime Minister. The consensus seems inevitable for the controversial political figure who heads a center-right nationalistic party—the Bharatiya Janata Party (Bjp)—that will take the wheel in Delhi after the last, long congressional digression.
Nehru and Indira Gandhi’s party is the true defeated in the lengthy election, and should see its members halved. Bjp could even reach the absolute majority in parliament without resorting to difficult agreements with regional parties (or better, states in the Indian federation). Even if they’re far from Modi’s anticipated victory, they have won because they consolidated their positions, eroding India’s imperfect bipartisanism perhaps definitively.
And so, the longest and biggest election in history was concluded. From April 7 to May 12, 581 million people—two thirds of the electoral body—lined up to exercise their right, limited by obvious logistical and security reasons. India watchers and propagandists celebrated the event, praising “the biggest democracy in the world.” Critics claim that the connection between elections and democracy is forced, because the equality among votes is contrasted by frightening differences in income, access to goods, social status, and education.
The stock exchange has already celebrated Modi’s victory; his rise is an obvious sign of the necessity of a stable government and the desirability of change. The business world hopes that the next premier will apply Gujarat’s recipe to all of India, the state Modi governed with a still inimitable economic success. Finance and the middle class were not the only ones to vote for him. Modi gathered acclaim even among the poorest classes, in villages, and the urban elite. He was a magnet for Hindu nationalism—traditional reservoir of votes—and social protest.
The India miracle had run aground a few years prior and the promise of unbridled growth had to reckon with the financial crisis and the administration’s incompetence. Even with signs of improvement, the congress government didn’t eradicate the underlying causes of underdevelopment: lack of infrastructure, disparities, illiteracy, and diffuse violence. When budget constraints became more pressing following a dip in growth, welfare politics, which had fed out-of-control public spending, was no longer practicable. Furthermore, corruption had pervaded the bureaucracy with a progression that had become endemic. Congress’s social democratic and Keynesian position remained a simple, antiquated and blemished theoretical scaffold.
The Bjp shook the consensus tree, but its victory inspires fear at the same time. The Muslim minority recalls the 2002 pogroms with terror, in which they were the victims of Hindu nationalists in religious clashes. Suspicions concerning Modi’s incitements—and the subsequent responsibility in covering up the perpetrators—have never dissipated.
The extreme Hindu nationalist right’s armed branch was condemned by the west, and Modi was denied entry visas to the US and the UK. Ten years later, the penitence has been erased. Modi was greeted by the same courtesy reserved for future prime ministers. In fact, it had been anticipated for several years that the congress would lose the elections, a victim of its own mistakes.