In the run-up to the 2014 general election, Modi’s promise to voters was economic development.
Among other things, he pledged to create 10 million jobs and ensure that farmers would get at least a 50 percent profit over the cost of production. Yet none of these dreams materialized, and the Indian economy has performed poorly under him.
According to a leaked government jobs report, India’s unemployment rate stood at a 45-year-high of 6.1 percent in 2017 and 2018, compared to just 2.2 percent in 2011 and 2012, when the United Progressive Alliance, led by the Indian National Congress, was in power.
Official figures show that India’s agricultural growth rate fell from 4.2 percent from 2009 to 2014 to just 2.5 percent over the past five years. Rural distress was intense, and the Modi government’s demonetization of high-value currency, as well as its chaotic implementation of a uniform sales tax, brought immense hardship to ordinary Indians.
If his 2014 electoral promise fell so flat, why did Modi do even better at the polls this time?
As the economy deteriorated, Modi played up his strongman persona and skillfully deflected public attention away from economic woes and toward nationalism, patriotism and national security. A long-time member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a hardline paramilitary organization tied to the BJP, Modi is a champion of Hindutva, an exclusivist ideology that equates being Indian with being Hindu.
Increasingly, that ideology has seeped more into his government. It has done little if anything to stop vigilante groups with links to the BJP that have violently attacked Muslims with alarming frequency. Critics of Modi, who have called him authoritarian, have been cast as “anti-nationals” by both the government and a sympathetic media; some critics have even been jailed.
Source: After Whipping Up Nationalism to Win a Landslide in India, Can Modi Tone It Down?