India elected a new party into power last week, and only time will tell whether the hopeful predictions of economic growth or the gloomy portents of religious persecution are more correct.
The election surprised analysts because the BJP party—which was so small it has not even had minority governing power since 2004—took 282 seats and the right to elect a prime minister, Narendra Modi. Modi was elected on his record as a decisive leader who turned around the economy of the Gujarat state as its governor.
The BJP's victory was remarkable as an example of a violence- and corruption-free political upset in the world's largest democracy. But Dr. Timothy Shah, whose father hails from Gujarat, finds it worrying.
Modi’s campaign focused primarily on economic issues, but it is ultimately a right-wing Hindu nationalist party. Shah worries that the people’s natural desire for better economic leadership as their country grows could lead to “grave and unintended consequences for democracy and religious liberty.”
"Modi was probably personally complicit in a pogrom that killed 1,000 to 2,000 Muslims in 2002," Shah said during a Heritage Foundation panel yesterday.