The Hidden Story Behind India’s Remarkable Election Results: Lethal Heat

The electorate has resurrected a viable opposition in parliament against a chastened BJP. But neither side is ready to face the immensity of the climate crisis.

Amitava Kumar at The Guardian: The Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), led by India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has won more seats than the opposition alliance, and yet its victory tastes of defeat. Why?

In the days leading to the election, the BJP’s main slogan had been Abki baar, 400 Paar, a call to voters to send more than 400 of its candidates to the 543-member parliament. This slogan, voiced by Modi at his campaign rallies, set a high bar for the party. Most exit polls had predicted a massive victory for the BJP – and now the results, with that party having won only 240 seats, suggest that the electorate has sent a chastening message to the ruling party and trimmed its hubris.

Let’s take as an example what has happened in the Faizabad constituency.

Faizabad, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, also includes the city of Ayodhya. Back in January, Modi inaugurated, with tremendous fanfare and pomp, a temple built on the site where a Hindu mob had demolished a 16th-century mosque. The opening of the temple had not only brought to fruition a three-decade-old promise of the BJP, it also cemented the notion of India as a Hindu majoritarian state.

The inaugural ceremonies were led by Modi, and he stood inside the temple, in its sanctum sanctorum, with the head of the militantly ultranationalist Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Modi called that moment “the beginning of a new era”, but to many it signified the end of the secular ideals behind the idea of India.

And yet, one of the most significant outcomes in this election has been the defeat of the BJP candidate in Ayodhya. It was not the inauguration of the temple and the televised spectacle attended by celebrities that mattered in the end; instead, it was the more pressing issues of unemployment and price rise that the voters cared about. A survey spread across 19 of India’s 28 states showed that while 22% of the people felt that the temple was the Modi government’s “most liked” action, only 8% said that it was their primary concern. In contrast, unemployment was the primary concern for 27% of those surveyed.

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