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Modis operandi: Indias enormous election


The biggest democratic exercise on earth, India's general election, the scale of it is staggering some nine hundred million people began voting last week at a million polling stations the process will continue until the twenty third of may. The election is the first since Rendra Mody, the leader of the Barth the junk party was sworn in as prime minister of India. He switched to power in two thousand fourteen with an inclusive. Message promising jobs and progress. His focus on Hindu unity majority faith in India. Put an end to seven decades of secularist politics since then though his popularity has waned somewhat economic growth is disappointing unemployment is relatively high. But the recent boiling over of long standing tensions with neighboring Pakistan has revitalized Mr. Modi's bid for reelection. So the election is as -ticipant it'd the biggest in the world ever, Alex trolley, India correspondent with the economist based in Delhi, India's largest means the world's largest you hear that an estimated nine hundred million Indians are eligible to vote and Indians ten devoted relatively high rates between sixty and eighty percent host states more than one in nine humans is eligible to vote and then the rigmarole of actually conducting elections in country as sprawling and in some ways challenges this one means that pulling takes a long time. So tell us about the render Mody so Narendra Modi has changed Indian politics indelibly, and that's something that we could have said even before the two thousand fourteen general election, India's last one of the most striking ways, formerly as that. He presents himself as something like a presidential candidate the party that he leads party John party or J P, really. Rides on his coattails Audie m accord, but he speaks forcefully up got got a bit the head. But was our up. What he what he projects the image of a strong, man, perhaps very virtuous, man. Also, a man with a hopeful attitude about the future about India's greatness, and it's claiming its rightful role in the world now. Notably the campaign. He ran in two thousand fourteen was much more focused on India's booming economy or Connie that everyone felt should be booming harder. This time round. He's voting rather. He's asking voters to choose him much more in the basis of his nationalist credentials is ability to protect India, from enemies, foreign enemies, internal enemies. It's in many ways a darker campaign. No less contentious. So on that note that how big a part will Pakistan play as an election issue. We'll. Custodian is playing a very large role say an outsized role in this election because of something that began in February and the middle of February. There was a terrorist bombing Indian-administered Kashmir that was horribly successful killed forty Indian soldiers paramilitary forces and came as a real blow to the sense of the nation. No thirteen days later, Mr. moody, ordered airstrikes and it's unclear what damage they did. But Pakistan responded with airstrikes of its own. And there was a dog fight. And India was able to walk away from this kind of mixed military exchange saying that Mr. moti had sought and found vengeance for the loss of those forty soldiers. And that this proves that his is the government that will defend against Pakistan. So every day since then on the campaign trail from not only his BJP, but from the other parties as well, you're hearing boxed on Pakistan. Pakistan, as if as if India box on relationships were the most important of all matters facing the Indian voter strange in part because the India-Pakistan relationship has been frozen solid for the past four years and has nothing apparent to do with any of the bread and butter issues that tend to determine elections in India. Well, what are the the real bread and butter issues? What do the the Indian voters really care about? Well, right now, it's different at different times. But right now, it seems like farmer distress is one of the very big things. And then from the more urban even middle class side of the electorate, it's kind of jobs crisis. What you have is not so much mass on employment of the western kind. Although the figure is record breaking for India. It's still only six point seven per cent. I believe and that may look low by western stand. Words, but what it reflects is huge disappointment on the part of the Indian workforce. It means that a lot of Indians would rather get no work at all than take up the sort of crummy jobs that are available to them. This isn't part of product of greater education and greater ambitions. And it's one of the things Mr. moody campaigned on most centrally in two thousand fourteen the number of jobs in India is barely greater now than it was then. So there seems to be plenty to challenge Mr. Mody on who are the other contenders his political threats. So the chief contender standing against Mr. Mody in the national level is Rahul Gandhi. He's the Siahaan of the Gandhi family that the narrow Gandhi family is great grandfather was the first prime minister of independent India, and he leads a party that has been badly battered in recent years, especially since Mr. moody reached prominence on the national stage. They command pathetically small number of seats in the lower house. And yet the head of that party. A young gash seeming middle aged man is the best hope in the form of personality. The opposition has against Mr. Mody, that's the congress party. And what makes them powerful would make them worth our attention at this point. Are the fact that every other party in Indy every other big party a couple of exceptions has come to see Mr. Modi's government as as an existential threat, and so they've all banded together. And what you have right now is this coalition led informally by Rahul Gandhi. But supported by every other big political party in the country. Now if that coalition can hold together, Mr. moody will really have to worry about keeping control of the government. I mean, democracy seems to be kind of always under threat, and and more. So all the time as the world's largest democracy. Do you think in the provides lessons for the rest of the world will India's examples should be inspiring? And that it's managed to maintain a democracy against extremely adverse circumstances, what was terribly impoverished nations still as mainly poor one extremely heterogenous and yet people keep voting in and especially the keep voting out leaders. They don't like so India's democracy that's worked even when it shouldn't. However, that's not to say that there isn't fragility in the Indian system and a lot of people have been concerned in the past five years that Mr. Modi's extremely effective control over all the institutions of the state might threaten democracy. Should he win power fairly one more time? So that's not to say that this current election, isn't lively and fully contested in democratic terms. But some people are afraid that this prime minister. Won't be capable of seeing the next one through so

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