How Rahul became Gandhi
Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi : The world's greatest election is taking place in India
“Good days are ahead” - with his promise of a bright future, Narendra Modi secured his party a clear victory in the Indian parliamentary elections in 2014 and became Prime Minister. For the vast majority of the 1.3 billion Indians, however, no era of prosperity has dawned under Modi. Some also see themselves endangered by his religious nationalism. With the almost six-week election that has now begun, according to surveys, his chances of a second five-year term in office are good - not least because of the threat of war at times. The count will be on May 23rd.
After losing three major regional elections in December, Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (Party of the Indian People's Party, BJP) suddenly seemed defeatable. Then on February 14, a suicide bomber killed 40 members of the Indian security forces in the Indian part of Kashmir. A Pakistani terror group claimed the attack for itself. This was followed by India's first air raid on Pakistani territory since 1971. Tensions between the hostile, nuclear-armed neighboring countries India and Pakistan had not intensified as much for a long time.
Since then, Modi has used the patriotic zeal that the episode unleashed in many Indians for himself. The 68-year-old, his cabinet and numerous supporters added the nickname “Chowkidar” to their profiles on social media - this is what the private guards in front of houses and businesses are called in India.
The message to the approximately 900 million eligible voters: We protect you. At the same time, the opposition is portrayed as "anti-national". "Why did Modi hatred get the opposition leaders to support those who want to destroy India?" The prime minister tweeted last Sunday - he has around 47 million followers on Twitter.
The BJP is considered the political arm of the Hindutva movement, whose supporters believe that India belongs to the Hindus. During Modi's tenure, there have been recurring lynchings of people accused of bringing cows to a slaughterhouse, killing or eating them. The cow is considered sacred to Hindus.
Lots of lynchings during Modi's tenure
The organization Human Rights Watch killed 44 people in such attacks between May 2015 and December 2018, including 36 Muslims. Members of the BJP had publicly incited this violence, it said. Modi had been accused of that back in 2002, after massacres of Muslims in Gujarat state, where he ruled at the time. "The country is experiencing an existential crisis," warns journalist Anjali Mody in the online newspaper Scroll.in. "A pluralistic, inclusive India defends itself against a hateful" New India "of majority rule."
Modi had promised five years ago that it would create ten million jobs a year. According to the latest figures from the state statistics agency, however, unemployment is higher than it has been in 45 years - the figures only came to light through the media; the government did not publish them and called them incomplete. "India has a job crisis and the government would like it not to be noticed," wrote economist Kaushik Basu in the New York Times.
Despite much criticized decisions such as the measure at the end of 2016 to withdraw 86 percent of all cash from circulation, India’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world under Modi. It is on the verge of overtaking Great Britain as the fifth largest in the world.
But the development is uneven: there are now more than a hundred Indian billionaires, but the majority of Indians live in poverty. There is a lack of jobs, even for educated young people - around two thirds of the population are under 35 years of age. You can find work in the huge shadow economy, but mostly under precarious conditions.
Opposition wants minimum income for the poorest
Government jobs with social benefits are therefore very popular. A few months ago almost 100,000 people applied for 62 advertised positions as messengers to the police in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The prerequisites were a fifth grade degree and the ability to ride a bike. According to reports, 3,700 of the applicants had doctorates.
Both the BJP and the opposition from the Indian National Congress (INC) promise to introduce extensive social programs in the event of an election victory. The BJP wants to pay annual aid to the many farmers in need. More than half of Indians make a living from agriculture. The INC has announced a minimum income for the poorest 250 million citizens.
Many of the 1.3 billion Indians view such election promises with skepticism; too often they have already been disappointed. Even after five years in the opposition, the INC is still held responsible for deep-seated problems such as rampant corruption. The center-left secular party has been in government most of the time since the country gained independence from Britain in 1947. The 48-year-old party leader and top candidate Rahul Gandhi is the great-grandson of the first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru; his grandmother Indira Gandhi and his father Rajiv Gandhi also held office.
"My problem is that I don't know who to vote for," said writer and former manager Gurcharan Das, summing up the thoughts of many in an opinion piece for the Times of India newspaper. “I'm disaffected. The good days have not come, but nationalism has come and the India that I love is changing, ”he writes. "I am surrounded by Modi disciples and Modi haters, and I find both of them easily repulsive." (dpa)
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