These days, it’s hard to find better coattails to ride than Narendra Modi’s. His party, the BJP, routed the Congress party in two state elections on Sunday, reports the WSJ:
The BJP, which has Hindu nationalist roots, emerged as the biggest party in the state legislatures of Maharashtra, home of Indian financial capital Mumbai and relatively industrialized Haryana in northern India.The wins, in parts of the country that aren’t traditional BJP strongholds, dealt a significant blow to the Congress party, which has been reeling since its defeat by the BJP in national elections in May after a decade in power.Congress-led governments had governed Maharashtra for 15 years and Haryana for 10 years.Political analysts say the results could give Mr. Modi a window of opportunity to push for more far-reaching economic liberalization before the annual budget is due in February.
The decline of the left-leaning and secular Congress party that ruled India virtually unchallenged for decades after independence under the leadership of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is as big a story as the rise of right-wing, proudly Hindu BJP.India’s intellectual and bureaucratic establishments are profoundly shaped by the years of Congress domination—in some of the same ways (only more so) that U.S. universities and federal bureaucracies tend to be dominated by Democrats. Now the Hindu right is in charge, and many in India’s media, intellectual and government establishments will feel as their American counterparts might if Sarah Palin made it to the White House.The clash of culture and ideas between India’s establishment and the political leadership is likely to be explosive. Ultimately, Modi’s success depends on turning India’s behemoth of a government and its lumbering, over regulated economy onto a sustainable reform path. That will intensify the opposition from vested interests; Modi’s toughest battles lie ahead.