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How Did Narendra Modi Win with Such a Large Majority?

Modi's Victory
Narendra Modi’s was re-elected by a landslide victory on Thursday, May 23rd, setting him up for another 5 years in power. Why was he so successful and what does this mean for India?

Tausif Mukri, an Indian technology analyst working in Delhi addresses this question.

Tausif starts off outlining why, in his opinion, Modi is so successful. "It is very important to understand his background. He is a member of the Hindu nationalist group called RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh], which is regarded by many to be a parent organisation for the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party], the party in power. Why was Narendra Modi able to get such a wide mandate from such a diverse population as that in India? The people's mandate was not for the BJP, it was for Narendra Modi, because of his popularity. Modi appeals to the predominantly Hindu population."

Many people have blamed Modi for various failings in fulfilling his election promises in 2014, but there is another side to the story says Tausif: "What a lot of people don't know is that the centre of power for the BJP is in the urban areas. The more urban people vote, the more votes go to BJP. But who wins an election depends on how the rural population votes, as most people live in the countryside. Narendra Modi, through various welfare schemes has tried to attract votes from these areas, and this is why he got a bigger mandate than in 2014….One of these projects was an insurance scheme for poor people, for all Indians. Another scheme provided gas cylinders free of charge to rural households which previously were dependent on firewood. These cylinders were given to about one tenth of the population of India." Such initiatives, it seems, were tremendously successful.

As far as foreign policy goes, Tausif says that Modi has engaged personally in interaction with foreign leaders, rather than relying on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to do that time-consuming job. Foreign policy indeed seems to be the single most important issue for him. "He has tried multiple things to improve the image of India around the world, how well it has worked has yet to be seen. But we can see an improvement in global support for India. Modi will try to boost the image of India as a strong country. He said during the election campaign that the people of India want a strong, rather than a weak government."

The relationship between India and China has always been tricky. Under the new government, Tausif expects India to continue to support US policy, and the US has major problems with China. ‘Under US influence, India will not be able to improve foreign and trade relations with China to the extent that they want to and to the extent that would mutually benefit both of countries. I am a hopeful person however; I would like to see more cooperation between India and China in terms of trade and security, let's wait and see what will happen."

As regards Indian-Russian relations, Tausif says: "Russia is a very important State in the world right now, the influence that Russia holds is significant. In order to maintain the balance between the US and Russia, India has to make certain compromises. India in the past has maintained cordial relationships with the US, when they were good friends with Russia. I think that the roles will switch this time."

To finish the programme, Tsauif says that Indians are becoming more politicised: "Surprisingly, after 2014, people are becoming more vocal and understanding about politics in general. Now more and more people from different classes have started understanding politics. But understanding politics and playing a constructive role in politics are two completely different things." 

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