India’s long moribund opposition shows signs of life

Dec 13, 2018

“ANTI-INCUMBENCY” has long been an iron rule of Indian elections. Yet that had seemed to change when Narendra Modi led his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to national victory in 2014. Wielding the biggest majority in a generation, the new prime minister promised to rid India entirely of Congress, the party that had ruled it for most of the previous five decades. In state after state and vote after vote, the BJP did indeed trounce its doddering rival, spreading a widening swathe of saffron—the colour of Hindu nationalists—across the political map. With a general election due in the spring, and Congress’s toehold having shrunk to just three of India’s 29 states, Mr Modi looked set to waltz into another five-year term.

As the results of voting for five state assemblies trickled in on December 11th, this calculus changed. Two of those states, Telangana and Mizoram, are considered outliers: their polls were won by regional parties with...

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