Narendra Modi, Another Idea of ​​Democracy, Christophe Jaffrelot (Le Monde Diplomatique, April 2024)

File: India, the other side of a power

Since coming to power 10 years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put an end to the secularism scheme envisioned by the fathers of the Indian Constitution. This development is characterized by the racialization of democracy and the emergence of a form of authoritarianism that undermines all institutions.

Dhruvi Acharya. —“ Underwater smog » (Underwater smog), 2023

Le Since 2014 Mr. Narendra Modi's electoral victory was based on an unprecedented combination of populist style.Hindutva. This Hindu nationalist movement was based on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Force, RSS), a paramilitary organization born in 1925. Its program: To strengthen young Hindus physically and morally” resist » For Muslims accused of threatening the majority.

Mr. Modi joined the RSS as a child, devoting his life to the movement (not living with his wife and not pursuing a career): he rose through the ranks until he became a prominent leader in his home state of Gujarat. In 2001 he took charge of the Govt. The following year, he presided over an anti-Muslim massacre that left around two thousand dead – a strategy of religious polarization that allowed him to win regional elections in December 2002. Having won in 2007 and 2012 after comparable experience, he emerged as the natural prime ministerial candidate of his party Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People's Party, BJP) in 2014.

But Mr. Modi breaks down the importance of collegial discipline of the RSS. He tries to put himself forward and enter into a direct relationship” her » People: Rather than relying on a network of enthusiasts, he maximizes the number of gatherings where he exhibits his oratory. He created his own television channel, diligently used social networks and resorted to a revolutionary technique: holograms, which allowed him to deliver the same text in hundreds of places at the same time. Even better, he distributes masks bearing his image and allows his followers to identify themselves. He fills the public space to include people – all the more easily since he himself comes from it – but he is limited to the Hindu majority who opposes one target: the Muslims. .

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Christophe Jaffrelot

Research Director at the Center for International Research (CERI), Science Bo – National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Editor Modi's India. National-Populism and Racial Democracy (Fayard, Paris, 2019) and Modi's India. Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Racial Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2021).

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