Under Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party poses a risk to democracy
When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a landslide victory in India’s general election in 2014, its leader, Narendra Modi, was something of a mystery. Would his government initiate an economic lift-off, as businessfolk hoped, or spark a sectarian conflagration, as secularists feared? In his five years as prime minister, Mr Modi has been neither as good for India as his cheerleaders foretold, nor as bad as his critics, including this newspaper, imagined. But today the risks still outweigh the rewards. Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader.
Mr Modi is campaigning as a strongman with the character to stand up to Pakistan for having abetted terrorism. In fact, sending warplanes to bomb India’s nuclear neighbour earlier this year was not so much an act of strength as recklessness that could have ended in disaster. Mr Modi’s tough-guy approach has indeed been a disaster in the disputed state of Jammu&Kashmir, where he has inflamed a separatist insurgency rather than quelling it, while at the same time alienating moderate Kashmiris by brutally repressing protests.