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Like many observers of the recent Gujarat elections, I was stumped. Was, because reading M.R. Venkatesh's incisive analysis of Modi's victory threw considerable light on voters and voting.

Venkatesh explains India's history:

"Secularists, with their firm belief that the concept of this nation could be built from a clean slate without any reference to her past, are oblivious of this set of voters and their psyche. Remember, we are a nation with a historical baggage of defeats in the past thousand years or so."

and neatly ties that to voters' fears:

"And our collective understanding is that all this happened because we Indians were never politically conscious of defending ourselves...Crucially, we did not have strong leaders to defend the nation from such predators."

And as feared, the greatest casualties of this polarization are "increased communal tensions and social friction. As Indian society gets divided on these lines, it could well lead to the revival of militant Hinduism -- leading to shriller retaliation from the secularists leading to a vicious spiral of polarisation of the polity, voters and society."


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