The politics of the world’s largest democracy looks set for a sharp swing to the right as the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) completed a landslide victory in India’s parliamentary elections on 16th May.
After over a decade in power The Congress Party, who under the leadership of the Nehru-Gandhi family have dominated politics on the Subcontinent since Independence in 1947, were decimated in the most resounding Indian election result in 30 years.
The country’s new Prime Minister will be BJP leader, Narendra Modi, who has promised to re-establish economic growth and sees development as a key priority. Having served for the past 11 years as Chief Minister in the western state of Gujrat, Modi is seen as a man who gets things done and is known for his ‘muscular nationalism’.
During his campaign, Modi enjoyed massive popular support, summed up by the reportedly spontaneous and impromptu Hindi phrase, “Ab ki baar, Modi Sarkar!” (This time, Modi’s Government!), adopted by his supporters all over the country. Modi tweeted his reaction to his party’s historic win: “India has won. Good times ahead.”
The dramatic change is said to reflect public anger at The Congress Party’s involvement in a number of serious corruption scandals recently and, despite the global slowdown, its leadership came to be considered ineffectual as India’s booming economy lost much of its momentum. The Party’s President, Sonia Gandhi has accepted defeat graciously, saying “We humbly respect the verdict of the people.”
Modi himself is not free from controversy as many claim he did little to stop the deaths of over 1,000 people during riots in Gujrat in 2002. Nonetheless, in securing at least 338 of the 543 available seats in parliament for themselves and their allies, the victorious BJP have been given an emphatic mandate for their program.
Over 500 million, or an Indian record 66.38% of those eligible, turned out to vote in this enormous nine stage election process, making it the world’s largest exercise in democracy. Looking at the prospect of economic renewal, India’s main stock market, the BSE, soared to over 25,000 points, a high unseen in recent years.