What Does Modi's rise mean .....
by Joshua Rosenfield, Asia Society, New York, May 16th, 2014
In the wake of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s resounding victory in India’s elections, Asia Society reached out to our network of fellows and experts in a variety of fields for their reactions to the vote. What do the election results mean? And what developments should observers watch for and expect as Narendra Modi is seated as Prime Minister and begins to implement the BJP’s agenda?
Senior Advisor, Asia Society; Author of the forthcoming book The Taliban Revival: Violence and Extremism on the Pakistan–Afghanistan Frontier
Though in India, the political rise of Narenda Modi and the revival of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party is being projected as the victory of common man, Pakistanis recognize him more as a right-leaning politician who was hands-in-gloves with elements who orchestrated the brutal killings of Muslims in communal violence in Gujarat in 2002.
Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif called Modi to congratulate him on BJP’s landslide election victory and invite him to visit Pakistan, hoping to fully revive the peace process which Sharif had initiated with India in early 1999 when another BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister of India. Sharif, like many other leading Pakistani politicians, is now convinced that peace with India is a must for Pakistan’s progress. The question is whether Sharif can “help” Pakistan’s military establishment in overcoming their concerns and inhibitions in the matter. Pakistan’s right-wing political forces are also ever ready to obstruct any talk of peace with India.
On the brighter side, one earnestly hopes that soon-to-be Prime Minister Modi will follow what he said about relations with Pakistan in early May in an interview with The Times of India: “Both countries faced a common enemy in widespread poverty which they could tackle to together if a new trust could be established.”
Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations
Mr. Modi has campaigned on an economic growth and governance platform. That’s likely good news for resolving many of the U.S.-India economic frictions, such as FDI limits, tax predictability, and openness to greater trade in general. American companies are looking forward to getting back to business with India.
Surjit S. Bhalla
Columnist, The Indian Express; Chairman, Oxus Investments; Senior Advisor, Zyfin
This election will be a significant departure from history. While the curtain has not yet been dropped on caste politics, we are near to that dream reality. It is poetic justice that Narendra Modi, a lower caste OBC, and one who has never played the caste card and indeed vehemently argued against it, should be the one to provide a death blow to Mandal politics. What has also nearly ended is Communist politics. The Left parties managed to obtain only 10 seats, half their 2009 amount, and ended their masquerade as a national party.
But the real political story of this election is the near complete decimation of the Congress party. The party has had two humiliating defeats in the past: the first in the old India of 1977, and the second in 1999. Election 2014 is witness to the Congress hitting its lowest ever seats, 45. The reality is that the Congress as we know it, and have loved and hated it, is destroyed, and it is the political death of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. When a 130-year-old national party obtains less than a twelfth of the total seats on offer, and barely makes it as the second-largest political party, regional or otherwise, it cannot, should not, and for its own survival must not remain the same.
Interim Director, Asia Society Policy Institute; Senior Fellow, Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania
From a politics of scarcity to a politics of aspiration—that is the central meaning of the historic Indian election so resoundingly concluded today. Over the last 15 to 20 years the Indian people have discovered that with economic growth comes the possibility of better lives for themselves and their children. No longer is the struggle about who gets what slice of an unchanging chapati, but how growth can afford more opportunity for many. And those young Indians for whom this was the first time to vote have never known the politics of scarcity and will accept nothing less than a positive vision based growth and opportunity.
Nor is the new narrative of Indian politics just an urban phenomenon. Exit polls showed the BJP and its allies winning almost as decisively in the rural areas as in the cities, despite the UPA Government’s multiple schemes to shower goodies on farmers and rural labor.
Somehow the Congress Party missed the emergence of a new India that is optimistic about the future. Perhaps lacking true political leadership, it has been imprisoned in the mindset that elections can be won by framing “rights” and implementing poorly designed welfare schemes.
For all the credit due to Mr. Modi—and yes, this was a Modi wave election—he faces the enormous challenge of somehow fulfilling the high expectations of renewed growth, more jobs, subdued inflation, improved infrastructure, and less corruption that the Indian people have placed on him and his party. If he strays from the pursuit of growth and opportunity that he has promised, and especially if he allows the agenda of the Hindu right to distract his government and the country, he will in time be held equally to account.
The promise, and peril, of Modi’s mandate - Siddharth Varadarajan Blog