Narendra Modi and the struggle for India’s soul

20190302_FBP003_0Source: The Economist

When the world’s biggest electorate handed Narendra Modi a thumping victory five years ago, India seemed poised for far-reaching change. His party had won an outright majority of seats in the national parliament, a rare feat in India’s fractious politics. This was not only punishment for tarnished incumbents or reward for Mr Modi’s hard-working, no-nonsense, business-friendly image. Many also saw it as a ringing endorsement of his ideology. Mr Modi’s strident brand of Hindu nationalism, which pictures Pakistan less as a strategic opponent than a threat to civilisation, puts him at the fringe even of his own Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp).

After five years in power, the Hindutva (Hindu-nationalist) movement faces a moment of reckoning. That is not just because first Pakistan’s jihadists and then its air force have presented Mr Modi with a political crisis. It is also because India is approaching a general election looking as polarised as at any time since independence.

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