Mass protests have spread across India delivering a remarkable, and unexpected blow, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi leader of the Hindu nationalist BJP. Up until now Modi has seemed unstoppable defying expectations to win a thumping a majority in the May parliamentary elections. This victory owed a great deal to a terrorist attack in February this year in the state of Jammu and Kashmir – subject to a long running territorial dispute with Pakistan. Modi’s forceful response that led to skirmishes with Pakistan let him pose as the man who stood up for Indian security. In the elections rumblings of discontent over the economy were swept aside in a tide of jingoism.
Following this success, Modi – emboldened, unleashed, convinced a strong man image pays, and perhaps hoping to distract from ongoing economic troubles – has implemented measures that seem little less than a concerted attempt to reshape India along Hindu supremacist lines, and sideline Indian Muslims who make up 14% of the country. In pursuit of this he is not afraid to resort to deeply authoritarian, near dictatorial tactics.