Just before midnight on the eve of the biggest political change in Indian-administered Kashmir in decades, authorities shut down internet access, mobile and landline phones and cable TV in the disputed region home to 12.5 million people. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government presented an order in Parliament on Aug. 5 revoking the autonomy of India’s only Muslim-majority state. The following day, lawmakers passed a bill to split the state, Jammu and Kashmir, into two federal territories. Government officials have filled the communications void by asserting the changes have widespread acceptance in Kashmir, across India and internationally — a portrayal that hasn’t stood up to scrutiny. By circulating photos and videos with rousing Kashmiri folk music but no voices — evoking 20th century wartime newsreels — India’s foreign ministry asserts life is returning to normal. Independent news reports suggest otherwise. Kashmir has been disputed territory since 1947, when India and Pakistan won independence from British rule. Each claimed Kashmir and they have fought two of their three wars over it, with each now administering part of it. The nuclear rivals approached war again in February, when a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir killed 40 paramilitary soldiers. India responded by bombing an alleged terrorist training camp in Pakistan. The response was meant to signal Modi’s hard-line stance on Kashmir, where soldiers are authorized to shoot civilian demonstrators with marbles and pellets, blinding some people. The Indian government has also regularly cracked down on communications, especially in the Himalayan region where
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a second term in office after responding to a suicide attack on Indian paramilitary forces in troubled Kashmir with an airstrike inside Pakistan, allowing him to turn voters’ attention away from the country’s highest unemployment rate in decades. Now, after his swearing-in on Thursday, he will need to deftly navigate a trade war between the United States and China and rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran, an important source of cheap oil for India’s fast-growing economy. Modi will also face pressure to protect India’s traditional sphere of influence in South Asia. Many Modi supporters credit the 68-year-old leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party with India’s growing status abroad, and messages from U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulating him on his party’s victory even before all results were in seemed to bolster that belief. Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian ambassador to Washington, said foreign policy has been one of Modi’s most pronounced achievements, as he pursued it with vigor “that we have not seen in any other prime minister so far.” As Modi returns to power for another five years, global leaders are looking to India to take on a larger burden of responsibility in the world, acting as a security buffer in the Indo-Pacific, opening its markets and responding to climate change, even though Modi struggled to manage many of India’s domestic issues in his first term. “Maneuvering
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has swept to a huge election victory, his foreign minister said on Thursday, giving his party a mandate to pursue policies that put Hindus first, are mainly business-friendly and take a hard line on national security. Official data from India’s Election Commission showed Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead in 294 of the 542 seats available, more than the 272 seats needed for a majority in the lower house of parliament. That would give it the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984. The main opposition Congress Party was ahead in 50 seats, figures showed. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, also a senior BJP leader, said on Twitter the BJP had won a “massive victory”. The mood was upbeat at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, with party workers setting off firecrackers and cheering as TV channels reported the margin of victory. Official data from India’s Election Commission showed Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead in 294 of the 542 seats available, more than the 272 seats needed for a majority in the lower house of parliament. That would give it the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984. The main opposition Congress Party was ahead in 50 seats, figures showed. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, also a senior BJP leader, said on Twitter the BJP had won a “massive victory”. The mood was upbeat at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, with party workers setting off firecrackers and cheering as TV channels
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling coalition is confident of a second term in office but opposition parties are talking to each other to seal an alliance, hoping to topple him after general election results are announced on May 23. The seven-phase election started on April 11 and ends on May 19. Below is how India’s biggest parties are aligned. NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE (NDA) BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY (BJP): Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP leads the NDA and won 282 seats in the last election five years ago. There are 545 seats in the lower house of parliament, two of which are nominated by the president from the Anglo-Indian community. ALL INDIA ANNA DRAVIDA MUNNETRA KAZHAGAM (AIADMK): The third-biggest party and Narendra Modi’s biggest partner in the south of the country, the BJP’s weakest region. The AIADMK won 37 of the 40 seats it contested the last time, but the death of its charismatic leader, J. Jayalalithaa, in 2016 could affect its performance. SHIV SENA: The hardline Hindu party, based in India’s financial capital Mumbai, is in an on-off relationship with the BJP. The parties sealed an alliance before this election, with the construction of a Hindu temple at a controversial site in the north being one of Shiv Sena’s key demands. Shiv Sena won 18 seats the last time, making it the sixth-biggest party. LOK JAN SHAKTI PARTY: The party mainly represents lower caste Hindus and won six of the seven seats it contested the last time. UNITED PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE
India agreed a deal with Russia to buy S-400 surface to air missile systems on Friday, the two sides said, as New Delhi disregarded U.S. warnings that such a purchase could trigger sanctions under U.S. law. “The (two) sides welcomed the conclusion of the contract for the supply of S-400 long range surface to air missile system to India,” India and Russia said in a joint statement at the end of the talks.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced calls for his resignation over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after former French president Francois Hollande was quoted as saying New Delhi had influenced the choice of a local partner. “The PM personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to …Anil Ambani,” Rahul Gandhi, the president of the main opposition Congress party, said in a tweet. “The PM has betrayed India.”