Positioning himself as a champion of the economic growth Narendra Modi has won India's general election by the biggest margin in three decades. The leader of the BJP party has become India's 15 prime minister. What course will India take domestically and internationally under its new leader and what global effect will that have? The host of Voice of Russia's Agree or Disagree Marina Dzhashi discusses the issue with Lisa Curtis, a senior fellow for South Asia at the Heritage Foundation and Sreeram Chaulia, professor and dean at the Gindal School of International affairs in Sonipat.
Marina Dzhashi: What do you personally think of this victory? Does it signal a new era for the country?
Lisa Curtis: I think this was unexpected even for the BJP itself to do this well. What this means, is that the BJP won’t have to water down its agenda. It won’t be impacted as much by its coalition partners, because it has such a strong standing within the Government.
I think this signals that people are ready for a change in India, that the policies of the Congress Government were simply not working for the Indian people anymore and I think this will be good for the economy of India.
Sreeram Chaulia: It surely is historic because the three decades long fragmentation of the politics has finally ended. India is a quasifederal state with the supposedly strong center, but the coalition politics of the last 30 years had reduced it to a mockery. I think this election is a mandate he’s received to forge in a way a new nation and a new India after these 30 years of decentralization.
Marina Dzhashi: What made Modi so popular?
Sreeram Chaulia: Modi came across as somebody who could connect to all views, colours and casts and even religions. There is evidence that Muslims have voted for Mr. Modi in some parts of the country. The marketing campaign of the BJP was phenomenal that projected him as a superhero, and it worked, because Nehru–Gandhi dynasty didn’t have this kind of charismatic politicians anymore.
Marina Dzhashi: Modi was considered a persona non grata by some Western leaders. Are we likely to see a U-turn in the attitudes?
Lisa Curtis:I think that the US and the Western officials will give Modi a chance to show that he is not going to be a divisive leader, that he will stay focused on improving the Indian economy for everyone’s benefit in India. The Obama administration signaled that it is ready to do business with Modi, that it is not going to linger on the Gujarat' issue. In fact, President Obama did reach out to Modi in a phone call and congratulated him on his victory and invited him to Washington.
Marina Dzhashi: India is a member of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization. How instrumental will its role be in those groups?
Sreeram Chaulia: I think Modi is very cognizant of the fact about our collective determination in these groups to create a multipolar world. It obviously goes against the goals of the US. So, at this level there is a contradiction.
Lisa Curtis: I think Modi is going to adopt an “India first”-policy. Certainly they will continue the engagement with the BRICS. The whole mutipolarity idea, I’m not sure how much the BJP leadership will be attached to that. The BJP is very pragmatic and I think they are going to be looking at India’s national security interests.
I think they are certainly going to maintain that historically close partnership, so that the bilateral relationship will remain strong between Russia and India. But when it comes to the whole idea of multipolarity, I think the BJP Government is going to be a little bit circumspect.
Sreeram Chaulia: Multipolarity is the only structural configuration through which India can find itself as a major power. As long as there is no multipolarity, India is going to remain confined to a south Asian power. And I think the BJP think tank knows very well that we need to engineer our rise to a great power status. And it can only happen when the world becomes multipolar.