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India's Democracy Under Hindu Fundamentalists: The Question of Minority Condition

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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The Bharatiya Janata Party BJP has ruled India since 2014. After assuming power, the BJP attempted to implement its Hindu nationalist agenda and targeted minorities, trying to push India from liberal, secular democracy toward majoritarian, ethnic democracy. Efforts by Indias civil society, including the media and judiciary, to resist the BJPs agenda have been met with legal retribution and violence. However, it remains unclear what BJPs domination of Indias national parliament means for Indias secular democracy. An analysis of the BJPs rule via Larry Diamonds four principles of democracy reveals that the BJP restricted participation of minorities in public life through violence, violated human rights, and subverted the rule of law. Indias minorities, including the Dalits and Kashmiris, reacted by establishing private militias, staging protests, committing suicide, seeking asylum abroad, and intensifying their demands for independence of Indian-administered Kashmir. Overall, the BJP has harmed Indias liberal democracy and polarized its traditionally secular society along religious lines if the BJP maintains its Hindu nationalist policies, minorities may radicalize or migrate as refugees. That said, civil society, the judiciary, and opposition parties have restricted Hindu nationalists attempts to turn India into an ethnic democracy and might be the key to countering this tendency in Indian politics.

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