India's far-right BJP has been re-elected to parliament with a landslide majority that will return Modi to the prime minister's seat.
It seems India’s far-right Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has won a landslide victory in the nation's parliament. Even though final results have not been announced, official data from the Election Commission showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party ahead 300 of the 543 seats up for grabs, up from the 282 it won in 2014.
A party needs 272 seats to form a government. The 2019 Indian election was seen as a referendum on Modi’s rule allowing him to solidify right-wing Hindu nationalist politics.
"Whatever happened in these elections is in the past, we have to look ahead. We have to take everyone forward, including our staunchest opponents," the re-elected prime minister said in a televised address.
He was critical of the many people that doubted the BJP could increase its majority. "The political pundits of India have to leave behind their ideas of the past," he added.
Renowned academic Zoya Hasan said, “BJP’s strategy, of divide and divert, has worked very, very successfully. At the end of the day, the Hindu vote bank has been consolidated, consecrated, and sanctified in a sense.”
The ruling BJP has been accused of politics of hate against the minority Muslim community in India.
Since the BJP came to power in 2014, hate crimes against Muslims are being carried out with impunity. The perpetrators are often applauded by the local BJP leaders while the prime minister always maintained his silence.
“In the past we talked about the dangers of majoritarianism. Now, it is something that’s clearly present, it’s there, and on the basis of this election, India’s democracy can clearly be described as a majoritarian democracy,” Hasan wrote.
In this election, for the first time in Indian history, a terror-accused was given a ticket to run for elections and won too. Sadhvi Pragya, a Hindu god woman was accused of a 2006 blast in the eastern state of Maharashtra. The blast was targeted at a mosque during prayer times. She was released on bail this year due to health issues.
Over 600 million people voted during the elections, out of 900 million eligible voters. The initial results show that Modi’s party won more votes than in 2014.
That would give it the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984.
The opposition party, Indian National Congress, or Congress, has obtained only 48 seats, a poor showing for the party that will lead many to question the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty whose father, grandmother and great grandfather all served as prime ministers for the party.
Activists, rationalists, and progressives are condemning the results. Many are also attributing BJP's victory to the growing communal division in the last five years. The BJP has successfully managed to instill hatred against Muslims and Dalits (people lowest caste of Indian society) which contributed to Thursday's results according to various political analysts.
"More than anybody else, he (Modi) knows how this result was produced. His campaign carefully avoided any reference to the promises of development he had made five years ago and relied instead on stoking fears about Muslims in the minds of Hindus and marketing himself as the only Indian leader capable of defeating terrorism," wrote Siddharth Varadarajan, a founding editor of a progressive media organization in India.