Dividing partisan unity: India's leanings towards the Western Right
Narendra Modi, the incumbent Indian Prime Minister, recently met a ‘private delegation’ of MEPs from the European Parliament, reportedly prepared by an Indian NGO led by businesswoman Madi Sharma. The Indian Government allowed the private delegation to visit the Kashmir Valley, however the visit was vehemently condemned by opposition parties in the Indian Parliament, as well as by certain political dissidents and journalists, especially from the New York Times, Washington Chronicle, The Wire and others. The controversy stirs on the premise that most of the MEPs invited embrace right wing or ultra-right wing ideologies while requests to meet the local Kashmiris from MEPs and politicians of liberal and left ideologies were not granted. The Opposition in India took it as a chance to criticize and counter the Indian Government. In another incident, the Indian Home Minister, Amit Shah, condemned the Indian National Congress over recent meetings some members of their party had with Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the British Labour Party.(1) Shah claimed that this meeting displayed to the Indian people, and the world, a volatile political act against India’s sovereign concerns. Undeniably, these two incidents demonstrate India’s changing approach to interacting with political leaders and organizations overseas.
In the past, India, by culture, has not been apparent enough to lean towards certain left or right political ideologies in terms like we see in Western democracies; stated another way, the respective ideologies of the political left and right have been of less influence among the Indian people. Until the United Progressive Alliance government (2004-2014), the political left and right have been balanced to an extent. However, since 2011, the rise of populism has become inevitable, rash, and demanding among democracies; India has been no exception. Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Indian General Elections in 2014 with the support of reformist voters who were motivated by economic anxiety, nationalism, and other relevant factors. During their first term, from 2014 to 2019, Modi and his party members were not expressive of any partisan interest or concerns of other nation-states. However, on August 5 the Indian Parliament authorized the dilution of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution under the aegis of Modi and Shah’s strategy. While Democratic members of the United States Congress (including Representative Ilhan Omar and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) condemned the BJP and the Indian Government, many Republicans (including President Donald Trump) did not subscribe to the same view. Furthermore, Trump suggested bilateral cooperation between India and Pakistan, which was not supported by the Democrats.