New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) landslide victories and poll performance in the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand legislative assembly elections 2017 have received diverse response in the international media. A recurring theme in the foreign media is that while the landslide electoral wins in these elections is an endorsement for Modi’s demonetisation move, the real challenge for the PM begins now.
Here’s how the global media has reacted:
■ The New York Times: “The rise of Western populists is now emboldening peers in Asia. Mr. Modi is bringing relative political stability to India, by fragmenting the opposition and concentrating power in his hands, thus shifting the driver of economic growth from the private sector to the state, and freeing himself to conduct radical economic experiments like his currency cleansing policy. And now with his election victory in India’s most populous state, his populist convictions are likely only to intensify,” writes Ruchir Sharma.
■ The Economist: “The capture of some 312 out of 403 seats in the state assembly of Uttar Pradesh was not merely a result of harder work, superior organisation and a more aggressive message. Indian pundits, a normally quarrelsome bunch, are virtually unanimous in crediting Mr Modi himself as the biggest vote-getter. Having won power in 2014 on a wave of hope for change, Mr Modi’s government had begun to lose momentum and the prime minister himself his aura of invincibility. In particular his abrupt move in November to scrap higher-denomination currency notes, which caused widespread hardship for little evident gain, raised doubts about Mr Modi’s competence. But now his hawa, meaning wind—as in a political tail-wind—is back. From one end of the Britain-sized state to another, voters proudly declared confidence that Modi-ji is the man to sort out India’s myriad woes.”
■ CNN: “At a time of global anger against elected leaders, India’s state elections represent a vote of confidence for the country’s Prime Minister, as well as a much-needed boost of morale. Modi had previously lost an important election in Bihar, a state which shares a similar voter base to Uttar Pradesh. Modi also suffered in recent months with the chaos and fallout from his demonetization move. With a cutback in consumer spending and economic activity, economists had predicted a fall of as much as one percentage point in India’s growth rate.”
■ BBC: “The balance of power in India has now decisively swung in favour of the BJP, and reinforces the party’s position as the central pole in India’s politics. The win in Uttar Pradesh—and in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand—means the BJP now rules more than a dozen of India’s 29 state legislatures. Also, the party appears to have successfully forged a coalition of upper, middle-ranking and lower castes to be able to manipulate the social arithmetic of Indian elections. It has also avoided being seen as doling out reckless patronage to a caste or group—the bane of Mr Yadav’s defeated party in Uttar Pradesh. Thirdly, midway through his first term, Mr Modi becomes the front-runner in the 2019 general elections for a second term in power.”
■ Xinhua: A close look at the elections in these five states suggest anti-incumbency factor has played a key role in the final results as no party has managed to retain their states.
■ The Straits Times: The huge victory notched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party in India’s most populous state showed its success in expanding beyond its traditional upper-caste and middle-class supporters and consolidating the Hindu vote.
■ Nikkei Asian Review: “With the ruling party in a commanding position India’s cumbersome democratic system will no longer be an excuse for lagging economic growth. Business leaders and the Indian National Congress, the former ruling party, previously cited the vagaries of politics in the world’s largest democracy to excuse stalled reforms and justify India’s modest growth rates when compared with China.”