India: Gujarat Curtainraiser
This week’s election in Gujarat, the famously business-friendlystate formerly run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are a big test for him as national elections loom in 2019.
Polls show that although his BJP party will keep control of the state, it may actually loseseats in what would amount to a shocking upset. Some of Modi’s national economic measures — scrapping large cash notes and imposing a new nationwide tax — have upset small businesses and farmers, and the Congress Party is fitfully emerging from the political wilderness in Gujarat by mobilizing caste-based grievances against the BJP.
Why does it matter? A home turf bruising in Gujarat may push Modi and the BJP to amplify the core Hindu nationalist aspects of its platform to boost support ahead of 2019 — but that could deepen existing divides in the world’s largest democracy.