This paper examines the impact on Indian democracy of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s populism. Our analysis argues that populism has been a useful tool in the deepening of democracy in India. Appealing to the “people” as a political construct with a broad social base has helped to transcend traditional identity cleavages. But in contrast to that form of transversal and inclusive populism, the
subject of this paper is Modi’s current version, which is built on a form of Hinduist exclusivism. Such a narrative of exclusion endangers the social contract born out of the idea of India as unity in diversity.
Keywords: India, Narendra Modi, Indira Gandhi, populism, secularism
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