Monday, June 16, 2014

Narendra Modi, Japan and the United States

On May 12 India completed national elections that saw the ruling party in national government change.  The Bharatiya Janata Party won enough seats in Parliament to make one of their own, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister.  According to the Financial Times, the BJP did not gain enough seats to form a majority government, and had to form a coalition, but Modi gets to be Prime Minister.  Modi himself is a colorful figure.  A former candy-maker turned politician, he campaigned on the promise of “toilets, not temples,” meaning he intends to focus policy on economic and infrastructure development rather than the Hindu identity that has long defined his party.  A politician like Modi does need to make that distinction.  Bharatiya Janata was founded in 1949 in response to the secular National Congress Party.  BJP is Hindu Nationalist in ideology, and now they have the advantage of having been out of national power long enough to avoid associations with problems of corruption and inefficiency, like their archrivals the Congress Party.