Early election results indicate a landslide victory for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu Nationalist party.
It looks like the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and allies will receive around 350 out of 542 seats, well over the 272 majority mark.
India’s grand-old socialist Congress party, which ruled the country for 54 of its 67 years since independence, may pick up around 80 seats, slightly better than its worst ever showing in the 2014 elections. The electoral landscape has mostly wiped out India’s other left-wing and Communist parties, traditionally strong in the eastern and southern states.
Following his election victory five years ago, Modi has pursued social conservative policies at home, investing in rural development, sanitation, and poverty elevation. Apprehensive of China’s growing influences in the region, he sought closer ties with Western allies, building strong personal relationships with President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Indian newspaper Hindustan Times reported the preliminary election results:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks set for a second term with another sweep, with the National Democratic Alliance that his party the BJP leads ahead in 346 seats as votes are counted for the Lok Sabha elections. The opposition bloc led by the Congress may not touch three figures if current trends continue. Leads are now in for all 542 Parliament seats in which elections were held.
The BJP alone is leading in 298 seats, well over the halfway mark of 272, and if the party wins all of these, it will improve upon its 2014 tally of 282. (…)
The national election was primarily a battle between the NDA led by the BJP’s Narendra Modi, and the United Progressive Alliance UPA led by Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, who was, however, not the alliance’s declared prime ministerial face. (…) The elections, held over seven phases, in 542 constituencies, witnessed the highest ever turnout in Indian history at 67.1% beating the previous record of 66.4% in the 2014 polls.
Modi’s reelection came as a shock to the mainstream media, which have long shown criticism of his supposed “anti-Muslim” agenda.
“India’s minorities fear return of Modi,” CNN claimed. The BBC parroted the sentiment, reporting: “India’s Muslims fear for their future under Narendra Modi.” The UK broadcaster added that with “an increase in hate crimes against Muslims in India in recent years, some fear the world’s largest democracy is becoming dangerously intolerant under the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”
The New York Times lamented India’s “Rightward Turn,” adding that “Modi, has governed as a right-wing populist whose nationalist message has often pitted Hindus against Muslims.”
“A Modi Victory Puts India’s 200 Million Muslims in Danger,” the headline in the U.S. weekly The Nation said. “The Hindu nationalist party ran a hate-filled campaign and now seems poised to return to power with a terrifying mandate.”
“Five more years of Narendra Modi will take India to a dark place,” the left-wing British newspaper The Guardian predicted. “India’s Right Wing Tightens Grip,” The Huffington Post commented. “In India, majoritarianism means Hindu nationalism or Hindutva, an ideology that envisions over 170 million Indian Muslims accepting that they are, in effect, second-class citizens.” the left-wing news website added.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Modi on his reelection. In July 2017, Modi became the first Indian head of government to visit Israel.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin also congratulated Modi.
Congratulations, my friend @Narendramodi, on your impressive election victory! The election results further reaffirm your leadership of the world’s largest democracy. Together we will continue to strengthen the great friendship between India & Israel.
Well done, my friend! ???????????????????? https://t.co/2U5yJmHddS
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) May 23, 2019
Modi’s election victory is part of a worldwide trend towards nationalism. India’s election result also shows a resounding rejection of the Socialist policies pursued by the Congress and other left-wing coalitions. These Soviet-inspired economic planning turned the country into one of the poorest in the world. Only after the free-market reforms of the 1990s, introduced following the collapse of the Communist bloc, did the economy score high growth rates for the first time since independence.
India’s reelected leader has his work cut out. The country still suffers from rampant poverty and underemployment. The socialist-era bureaucracy still stifles entrepreneurship and innovation. Modi’s resounding victory, however, shows widespread support for his policies and trust in his abilities to deliver on promises of economic prosperity and stability.
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