Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in New Delhi on May 31. (Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Modi’s Historic Victory

Al-Etihad, UAE, June 2

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to power with a landslide victory that has paved his way toward a five-year term in the Prime Minister’s Office. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won an unprecedented 303 of the 542 seats in the lower chamber, surpassing the 282 seats it won in the 2014 election. It became the first party to win [an unassisted] majority in more than three decades. After a fierce election campaign, Modi pledged to build a “strong India with all political factions” and to work harder for his public when he returns to power. His right-wing party has strengthened its influence beyond its traditional base of power in new states such as West Bengal and Udisha, in central India. Modi’s overwhelming victory makes him the third prime minister in India’s history to retain power after a full term, and the first BJP leader to take power for a second term. The 68-year-old politician dominated the elections despite serious problems, including rising unemployment and a farming crisis. The ruling party managed to divert attention from these major problems and focused its campaign on Modi’s popularity both at home and abroad. Hindu nationalism also played an important role in favor of the ruling party, with its leaders running divisive campaigns against minorities in India. The party nominated a few very controversial figures, including Ms. Prajia Thakur, who was accused of involvement in terrorist acts and from whom Modi had to distance himself after she praised Banathuram Godsi, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. But there are still deep challenges for Modi, including his promise to spur growth for all of India’s citizens. His challenge is to reassure minorities that the government will really protect them. In addition, his party’s landslide victory brought about increased expectations for his next term in office. In order to prove himself to the people of India, Modi will have to solve the farming crisis, stimulate the Indian economy, reduce unemployment, speed up the modernization of the armed forces and launch programs aimed at poverty reduction. India is one of the world’s most developed economies but it is also severely burdened by corruption and illiteracy. All of these issues will make it harder for Modi to deliver on the promises he made on the campaign trail. However, he seems determined to stand by his word and prove his opponents wrong. Whether you agree with his policies or not, this is an admirable aspiration of a leader committed to his nation and its people. – Zikru al-Rahman (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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