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Modi wins

AS was widely expected, Narendra Modi has won another term in office but his margin of the victory has rightly been described by analysts as ‘dramatic’ and ‘stunning’ because of the mandate given by the electorate to a leader who espouses divisive politics to the detriment of the philosophy of a secular India. According to the Indian Election Commission’s results, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance won 350 out of 542 seats up for grabs, up from the 282 it won in 2014 and more than the 272 seats needed for a majority in the lower house of Parliament. That would give his Party the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984 and make him the first non-Congress leader to become prime minister for two successive terms.
The huge victory for a leader has a silver-lining – he/she can take bold decisions to put the country on the path of progress and glory and contribute towards a cooperative regional and global environment but it is unlikely in the case of Narendra Modi who has won elections not on the basis of his performance but on the rhetoric of jingoism and hatred against minorities especially Muslims who constitute about twenty percent of the India’s population but stand highly marginalized. India’s economy under-performed during BJP’s rule and the party had a poor record as far as improvement in life of the people is considered as unemployment rate was highest in 45 years. The ground economic realities in India were explained by the reaction of the stock market to the victory of BJP. India’s stock market shot to record highs early on Thursday on news Narendra Modi was easily securing a second term, but all gains vanished as investors took profits and started looking at the broader fundamental issues facing the economy. However, despite poor performance, BJP scored impressive victory just because of propaganda against minorities and Pakistan.
Modi went to the extent of threatening peace and security of the region, triggering fear of a nuclear war, by embarking upon the misadventure of carrying out attacks inside Pakistan as part of his election strategy to whip up nationalist sentiments. His move to send warplanes fanned the flames of nationalism and helped the BJP turn voters’ attention away from the flailing economy and onto matters of national security. According to analysts, the airstrike gave him the narrative he needed to counter allegations of non-performance, unemployment and rural distress. It re-energized him and enabled him to reclaim his image as a strong leader India needs at this juncture. His victory, therefore, does not augur well for Muslims, Kashmiris struggling for their right of self-determination and regional peace and security. An analyst has aptly summarized the divisive policies of BJP during 2015-19 as it marginalised religious minorities, especially Muslims, from public life with many, as a result, being lynched by Hindu nationalists in the name of “cow protection”. They have incarcerated dissidents accused of being “urban Maoists”, created a cultural revolution of their own by Hinduising the bureaucracy and media; and crushed the seeds of progressive movements in universities, cultural institutions and on the streets.
It is rightly said that Jingoism and Islamophobia has propelled the BJP to an even stronger showing than in 2014 and with a weak opposition it could play havoc with the future of minorities and adopt more hawkish approach towards Pakistan. One hopes BJP and its leadership would review their policies towards minorities as well as Pakistan as both have the potential to translate into reality or shatter dreams about a prosperous India and a peaceful region. Pakistan, on its part, has always extended its hand of friendship to India as it is making sincere efforts for improving security environment of the region by launching an all-encompassing campaign against terrorism and trying to sort out issues with its neighbours especially India. It was in this backdrop that in his message of felicitation to his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his desire to work with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia. The response of the Indian PM was also encouraging who claimed that he always gave primacy to peace and development in our region. However, there is a mismatch between words and deeds, which needs to be looked into seriously for the sake of a better future for people of the region. The litmus test for this claim would be whether or not Mr. Modi moves towards a genuine process of dialogue with Pakistan with the objective of resolving all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir without which the dream of peace, stability and sustainable development of the region would remain a far off cry.