Indian PM Narendra Modi made history Thursday after winning another landslide. BBC's Jugal Purohit spoke to leading political analyst Pratap Bhanu Mehta on what this means for India.
Q: You recently said "something is going on that disrupts the soul of India's democracy". Now that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has returned with a bigger than ever mandate, what do you see for India from now to 2024?
As I said, what makes this choice very distinctive is what it has produced ̵
I think I'm worried that there was something surreal about this choice. My concern is about the fact that we have reached a point where truth does not seem to matter. And that is a dangerous point for a democracy.
I think we are in very unknown area. Therefore, this moment represents a significant danger to Indian democracy, because democracy survives on fragmentation of power.
We are now basically on a person's whims and what he decides to do with this extraordinary mandate he has been given.
For me, the most striking aspect is the number of people who are afraid to speak their minds, including some of India's most privileged and powerful – so the dominant tenor for this election was not a nation that marched with confidence.
When people trust each other and mistrust their leaders, you get democracy. When people distrust each other and completely trust their leaders, you get dictatorship.
I think we're in the second moment right now.
Q: A significant and persistent feature of the last five years of the Modi government was the hovering of lynchings reported from across the country. How do you analyze the role and significance of these lynches in his re-election, and how do you see this situation ahead until 2024?
I think it will be a little too fast to say that lynchings were a causal factor in the consolidation of BJP.
But I think what they did was very clear to indicate to their core constituency that this is now a country where majoritarianism can back the head with impunity. I think [the] lynchings was a political devilish movement, because BJP at that time understood that great uncertainties just look statistically bad – and they have the ability to unite forces against communism, making lynchings a special kind of modus operandi. Because at one level it looks like a drip, dripping, dripping – and not concentrating your mind in a way that a major disaster incident does.
But it succeeds in sending a signal that different societies must know their place. I think it is necessary to remind people repeatedly that this is a Hindu plural country and the marginalization of what you can call this compound history – I think this trend will accelerate.
Q: Do you think it's time for the Gandhi family and Rahul Gandhi to let go of the leadership of the Congress Party in particular?
He does not have the moral right and I think he will own the responsibility for the defeat. That's not the problem. The question is what you do after it – and all I say is to remove Rahul [Gandhi] tomorrow does not solve your core problem. I think Congress needs a complete revision of its leadership.