INDIA’S DEMOCRACY UNDER HINDU FUNDAMENTALISTS: THE QUESTION OF MINORITY CONDITION
Chatterjee, Anshu N.
Halladay, Carolyn C.
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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has ruled India since 2014. After assuming power, the BJP attempted to implement its Hindu nationalist agenda and targeted minorities, trying to push India from liberal, secular democracy toward majoritarian, ethnic democracy. Efforts by India’s civil society, including the media and judiciary, to resist the BJP’s agenda have been met with legal retribution and violence. However, it remains unclear what BJP’s domination of India’s national parliament means for India’s secular democracy. An analysis of the BJP’s rule via Larry Diamond’s four principles of democracy reveals that the BJP restricted participation of minorities in public life through violence, violated human rights, and subverted the rule of law. India’s minorities, including the Dalits and Kashmiris, reacted by establishing private militias, staging protests, committing suicide, seeking asylum abroad, and intensifying their demands for independence of Indian-administered Kashmir. Overall, the BJP has harmed India’s liberal democracy and polarized its traditionally secular society along religious lines; if the BJP maintains its Hindu nationalist policies, minorities may radicalize or migrate as refugees. That said, civil society, the judiciary, and opposition parties have restricted Hindu nationalists’ attempts to turn India into an ethnic democracy and might be the key to countering this tendency in Indian politics.
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