So-called progressives have been quick to criticize the beef ban as an affront to religious freedom, tolerance and personal choice. But it is paradoxical to talk of tolerance while turning a blind eye to the trauma and cruelty that the bovines face in the mostly unlicensed and ill equipped slaughterhouses in India.
NEW DELHI -- Despite speaking eloquently of tolerance and accommodation, Modi has remained largely silent in the face of hate speech by BJP ministers and MPs that is alienating India's non-Hindu minorities. The BJP may preach development, but it is practicing bigotry -- a contradiction that Modi could resolve only by repudiating the forces that helped ensure his electoral victory.
NEW DELHI -- The government's honeymoon is perhaps already over and realistically it has another six to 12 months to start putting flesh on the bare-bone schemes and ideas announced this past year. If these do not eventuate, one may well witness emptier stadiums abroad and hear shriller voices at home. Ultimately, for PM Modi to sell the Incredible India story, he will need to make India credible.
The BJP's convoluted "Hindutva" ideology, a curious and contradictory mix of cultural revivalism, economic Darwinism and militant nationalism, has always been rooted in anger. Much of it has been directed against India's liberals, leftists, Dalits (as "untouchables" now call themselves) and the Muslim, Christian and other minority communities. The BJP's view is that they have milked the system and public sympathy for undue benefits, which the Congress and other parties have showered on them for electoral, and not national benefit.
What Modi offered to voters was in effect a mix of market-friendly growth, muscular nationalism rooted in Hindu lore and the promise of a militarily-strong India. The extent to which this mix proved to be an elixir, particularly for India's young, aspirational, technology savvy generation, would be obvious from the outcome of the elections. The Congress party has suffered its worst defeat in its history. Parties that banked on the votes of the lower castes and Muslims have been routed. And those controlled by families in the states have been flattened. Modi's appeal has thus cut across India's traditional fault lines. In one fell swoop, the BJP has widened its social base and, no less important, established its presence in virtually every state of India. It can now legitimately hope to fill the void created by the debacle faced by the avowedly secular and populist parties. This election therefore heralds a tectonic shift in Indian politics.
India's next prime minister will be the pro-business Narendra Modi, who led the Bhartiya Janata Party (India People's Party, or BJP) to an unprecedented absolute majority, with over 280 seats projected in India's 543-member Lok Sabha (House of the People, the lower house of parliament). The stock market went giddy over the Modi victory.