India’s election has left the country more divided than ever – By Nikhil Kumar

…In 2014, when Modi first ran for national office – he was already a major regional figure by then, running western Gujarat state for over a decade – his campaign was dominated by his promises to usher in a sort of economic renaissance: Modi spoke of reforms to, among other things, make India an easier place to do business, make it better at generating jobs for the millions of young Indians who enter the workforce each year and to clean house to stamp out corruption.…

But look back at the campaign that’s just ended, and Modi the would be reformer is barely visible, replaced by Modi the protector, with the prime minister casting himself as the nation’s muscular “Chowkidar,” or watchman, guarding the nation’s interests against challengers foreign and domestic. Yet this isn’t merely about different slogans, and ways they are interpreted by Modi’s critics.

Consider, for example, the way campaign 2019 ended, with a controversy that brought together the concerns many liberals and minority Indians have about Modi and his allies: The rise of hardline Hindus and the fraying of India’s secular fabric.…


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