SINGAPORE (May 27): After a long and arduous election, India’s 879 million voters have spoken. And, if not with one voice, then close to it. The Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been handed another historic mandate.
Modi’s 2014 victory was already record-setting — the first time a single party had attained a parliamentary majority in three decades. While every vote has not yet been counted, it seems that he might equal or even surpass that figure this year. To win once at that scale was astounding, a black swan event. To win twice means that Indian politics, and India itself, has changed beyond recognition.
For the first decades after independence, India was a democracy but nevertheless a one-party state. The Indian National Congress, the party that led the independence movement, dominated most states and had a stranglehold on power in New Delhi. It was voted out once in 1977, after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi turned towards authoritarianism and was punished by a united opposition. Still, not until the 1990s did the party enter a permanent decline.