Here’s How India Feels About Its Next Prime Minister

by
Fatimah Mazhar
Despite being widely known as the man with a massacre on his hands, Narendra Modi, the hardliner Hindu nationalist leader of the Indian opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will become India’s next prime minister.

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India has decided. Opposition candidate Narendra Modi will be the next prime minister of the country.

Early election results show the hardliner Hindu nationalist leader headed for what is being called “the most resounding election victory” India has seen in almost thirty years.

While supporters at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) offices across the country celebrated Modi’s landslide win, his triumph wasn’t welcomed by everyone in the world’s largest democracy.

READ MORE: 5 Things Indians Voted For In The World's Biggest Election

Around 815 million people started voting in the Indian general elections – a number exceeding the population of Europe and a world record – on April 7. The mammoth exercise concluded on May 12 and initial results were announced early Friday morning.

Up until now, the reaction has been fairly divisive.

What Modi’s Proponents Think:

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Modi’s followers distributed traditional sweets and exploded fireworks to celebrate their leader’s early victory. For them he is an ideal leader because:

He is pro-development:

Modi is widely known as a pro-business leader who can progressively lead a nation of almost 1.2 billion people.

Commonly referred to as the “Development Man”, Modi enjoys the support of the world’s richest Indian businessmen. He is the incumbent chief minister of Gujarat and under his rule; the economy of the western state has grown around 10 percent annually, which is higher than the Indian average, over the course of ten years.

He comes from a humble background:

His rags-to-riches story is perhaps the driving force behind his popularity among the masses.

Modi was born to a family of grocers. He helped his father sell tea at a railway station as a child and as a teenager; he ran a tea stall with his brother near a bus terminal. The future Indian prime minister also worked in the staff canteen of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation.

He is a Hindu nationalist:

85% of the Indian population is Hindu, making it the leading religion in India.

One of the major factors behind his political and cultural success is Modi’s hardline brand of Hindu nationalism that he calls “Hindutva”.

He is known as the savior of “persecuted Hindus”, who are fighting for their rights in the tenacious caste system in India.

He is Tech-Savvy:

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His love for selfies and overwhelming online presence is also one of the reasons his supporters think he should be their next prime minister because these traits are rather uncommon in traditional Indian politicians.

What Modi’s Opponents Think:

Modi’s election as the future leader of the world’s biggest democracy is a sign of doom for his opponents and they have their reasons to think so.

His criminal record:

Modi is accused of doing little to stop the 2002 religious riots in the state of Gujrat when more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. He has consistently denied the allegations and no evidence has surfaced against him, thus far. However, the allegations have stuck.

The riots broke out in the state following the apparent murder of 58 Hindu pilgrims on a train and the resultant communal violence.

The matter grew into a national-level debate, with opposition parties demanding Modi's resignation. He did, and elections were held again. This time, he adopted a strong anti-Muslim stance and managed to win 127 out of the 182 seats.

Again, his Hindu nationalism:

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His hardline Hindu ideology has proved to be an asset. However, it has also been a huge source of his unsavory reputation.

Minorities, especially Muslims, consider his victory as a bad omen.

He may be a misogynist:

Modi’s approach towards women has been highly controversial.

He is often accused of misogyny since his top advisors are all men and he has only two women in his state cabinet of 19 ministers.

Contributor Monobina Gupta wrote about Modi’s misogyny in article for the Times of India:

“Narendra Modi, like many of his ilk, the Gujarat chief minister too has unfailingly stayed true to the stout tradition of masculinity.”

“A torch-bearer of this woman-hating culture, the irrepressible BJP chief minister has made a sport of targeting his opponents - Sonia Gandhi or Sunanda Tharoor - in a language that can easily be defined as unabashedly sexist, if not outright misogynist. Modi, like his compatriots from every other party, has turned this crude word-play into an 'acceptable' political and electoral language.”

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