After spending weeks campaigning for candidates from his nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in the populous northern state of Bihar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was handed a stinging rebuke by the electorate, according to The Telegraph:
The vote was widely regarded as a referendum on the prime minister’s popularity after 18 months in office as he campaigned hard for a victory that would have helped him pass a stalled national economic reform programme.
The defeat will embolden his opposition and dampen the mood as he heads to London for a visit that will include a sold-out rally with British-Indians at Wembley Stadium, lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace and an overnight stay at Chequers hosted by David Cameron.
During the campaign, Modi and the BJP used tactics aimed at exploiting caste and religious divisions. That strategy appears not to have worked, and it comes amidst complaints from artists and scientists that Modi has created a “climate of intolerance.”
Modi’s nationalism and partisan style helped him rise to power, and presumably he hoped that this style would also help him to build ongoing support for his political and economic reform strategy. But his recent failures to push through such reforms, and his inability to deliver electoral victories for the BJP, suggest that this approach is yielding diminishing returns.