Early results from India’s 2019 general election, which began on April 11 and continued in seven phases until May 19, put the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance on track to win 300 out of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, or India’s lower house of parliament, beating most expectations of their performance and improving upon their 2014 showing. The main opposition United Progressive Alliance, led by the Congress party, is projected to win fewer than 60 seats, with other largely regional parties making up the balance.
Since current Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, to the first simple majority the Lok Sabha saw in 30 years in 2014, religious minorities and lower-caste Hindus have faced increasing levels of violence and attempted and enacted reductions of their rights, such as a rise in largely unprosecuted mob lynchings of Muslims and Dalits suspected of slaughtering cattle in areas where beef-eating is legally prohibited or socially proscribed. According to a Human Rights Watch report on vigilante attacks in India, “between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people—36 of them Muslims—were killed across 12 Indian states.” The northeastern state of Assam chose to leave four million mostly Muslim Bangladeshi immigrants off its registry of citizens last year, and legislation proposed by BJP members, currently stalled in the Rajya Sabha, or upper house of parliament, would seek to streamline citizenship law for non-Muslim immigrants.
Joining us for analysis is Adam Roberts, the Midwest correspondent for The Economist. He previously worked as the magazine’s South Asia correspondent, based in Delhi and reporting from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.