For the first time in independent India’s history, a general election has brought a conservative party with a clear-cut parliamentary majority to office. Although scores of analysts have weighed in about what that party — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — will do next, three other questions have gone unanswered. First, why has India never had a sizeable conservative party of any consequence? Second, why has it taken the country over six decades to elect a conservative regime? Third, what are the prospects for conservatism in India in the future?
In Varanasi, where the BJP leader hopes to win his one of his seats in parliament, missed calls and unsolicited volunteers shape a crucial race.
Late this spring, India will hold its 16th general election. The vote will pit the forces of progressivism, which celebrate cultural and social pluralism and promote equity and good governance but appears singularly incapable of policy implementation, against the forces of cultural and religious nationalism, which promote rapid economic growth and political order but show little regard for social justice, religious and ethnic minorities, or the rule of law. The outcome of the battle could very well reshape the world’s largest democracy
The rise of regional parties has fundamentally transformed electoral politics in India, but those parties may not be the juggernauts they’re made out to be.
Modi is a hypnotic orator who, as one corporate executive after another has said, offers the best model of governance in a country rife with corruption and red tape. His actions in February 2002 have led him to be compared with Adolf Hitler, while his obsession with management details have led him to be compared with Lee Kuan Yew. Of course, Modi is neither. He is a new kind of hybrid politician: both media-savvy and manifestly ambitious. He is the first authentically charismatic Indian politician since Indira Gandhi — the late grandmother of his opponent in next spring’s election.
Rahul Gandhi is an empty vessel compared to Modi.
With the value of the rupee plunging to new lows, the current account deficit at an all-time high and inflation running at nearly a ten-percent annual clip, India is in serious economic trouble. Indeed many are beginning to wonder whether the country is edging toward a replay of the events in the summer of 1991.
A rupee in free fall; a terrifyingly wide current-account deficit; a corrupt, stagnant bureaucracy: In 1991, then-Finance Minister Manmohan Singh helped to rescue India’s economy from that near-death experience with a slew of liberalizing reforms, setting the stage for two decades of growth. Today, facing a similar, if less existential, crisis as India’s prime minister, Singh may well be the man standing in the way of a solution.