The Culmination of Modi’s Hindu Nationalism (The Editors, Jan 22, 2024, World Politics Review)

The opening of the temple, and Modi’s instrumentalization of it, marks the unofficial start of Modi’s campaign for a third term in office, with general elections expected to be called in the spring. It is also the latest illustration of the mutually beneficial ties between Modi and India’s Hindu nationalist movement, which he and his party have utilized to gain political power and amplified via his government’s policies and rhetoric.

The illiberalism associated with Modi’s brand of Hindu nationalism is at this point well-documented—at least abroad. Within India, press freedoms are shrinking, with a growing number of journalists, particularly those who cover religion and communal violence, facing punitive action, including criminal cases as well as threats of violence and harassment.

Still, despite how well India’s democratic backsliding over the past 10 years has been documented, Modi has yet to pay any real price for it in global affairs. India’s Western partners continue to court him, prioritizing competition with China over calling out the erosion of India’s liberal democracy. Even India’s ties with Muslim-majority nations, particularly the Gulf states but also in Southeast Asia, have not suffered under Modi, despite the increasing discrimination and violence faced by India’s Muslim population.