11/09/2015, 00.00
INDIA

Elections in Bihar: a heavy defeat for the prime minister Modi

The "Great secular alliance" wins 178 seats out of 243 total. The National Democratic Alliance led by Modi stopped at 58. The electoral debate marked by attacks from Hindu radicals against the secular writers and religious minorities. The Prime Minister has intervened in 26 debates. The state is the third largest in terms of population and size. A "new dawn" for Indian democracy.

Patna (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday admitted defeat in the elections for the Assembly of the State of Bihar. The coalition called "Great secular alliance" - composed of two regional parties and the Congress - beat the National Democratic Alliance of Hindu nationalist parties of the center-right led by Modi’s BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). Of a total of 243 seats, the opposition won 178; Hindu nationalists stopped to share 58. The election, which took place in five separate stages and was marked by an aggressive campaign, was considered a real referendum on the economic and social policies of Modi, who has now promised to "revolutionize" his agenda.

Indian press followed the election campaign closely for months, with Narendra Modi personally  participating in 26 public debates. The state of Bihar in fact is crucial: it is the third by size and population (100 million inhabitants), but is also one of the poorest, where coexistence between classes is the most difficult.

Modi was looking for a win, after the February defeat in the federal Territory of Delhi to the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party (Aap). For this he took part in many local congresses, promising policies for growth and development.

But the election was marked above all by concern about the growing climate of religious intolerance and social spread by groups of radical Hindus defending the Hindutva ideology across the country. In recent weeks in fact, public debate has been shaken by the violence unleashed by fundamentalists against writers and secular Muslims, the former "guilty" of supporting pluralism and the secular state, and the latter targeted for their food traditions .

Political analysts believe that the result was also affected by the recent statements of a Hindu militant group affiliated to the BJP - Swyamsevak Rashtriya Sangh - who has asked for a review of government policy on religious minorities, to stem the rise of Christians and Muslims who they claim are causing a "demographic imbalance" at the expense of Hindus.

The results in Bihar open new and unexpected scenario. First sanction the birth of a new centrist coalition alternative to Modi’s party , represented by party Janata Dal (United) of the current Chief Minister Nitish Kumar - a former member of the BJP, then why distaccatosi called the premier driven by trends "sectarian" - Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal's Lalu Prasad Yadav.

The two political leaders (see photo), from a socialist background, have long been rivals, but have created a political partnership with the Congress Party of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. After the vote count, Kumar said: "Unity won. This election was followed throughout the country. Today’s victory has national implications. Throughout India people want a strong and an alternative opposition ".

Analysts also argue that the vote is a "litmus test" for the government's policies. Local newspapers speak of "milestone" vote,  "revolutionary" and a "resounding defeat", which demands "structural change of national policies". They also speak of a "regenerative time for Indian democracy", of a "scorching lesson for the BJP’s sectarian politics ", a "new dawn" for the state of Bihar considered by some "the graveyard of all revolutions", but now "a source hope "for the whole country.

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