Narendra Modi, prime minister of India since 2014, won this year’s election by a landslide last Thursday (Das, 2019). His party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept parliament, securing a majority with 303 seats (Ayres, 2019). This victory follows a campaign focused on national security, Hindu-first rhetoric, and a promise to be “tough on Pakistan” (Ayres, 2019; Schmall, 2019). Tensions between the two countries remain high since the February bombing in Kashmir and subsequent military skirmish. In the last days of the election, Pakistan revealed that it had successfully tested the Shaheen II, a medium-range ballistic missile able to carry both conventional and nuclear warheads up to 1,500 kilometers (ISPR, 2019). While all South Asian leaders were invited to Modi’s 2014 inauguration, this year Imran Khan has been excluded, suggesting that tensions between the two nations will not resolve any time soon (Madan, 2019).
Modi’s reelection bodes well for India’s military relationship with the United States, though. The prime minister has expressed a desire for stronger ties between the two nations, and the U.S. would benefit from having India as an ally to counter the influence of China in the region (Wu and Gettleman, 2019). Issues with trade may become roadblocks, however. The U.S. wants to strengthen trade with India, its fastest-growing export destination (Rossow, 2019). Yet Modi’s government has been “skittish” about foreign investment and the U.S. may impose sanctions on India for buying Russian missile equipment (Rossow, 2019). India also has strong energy interests in Iran, which may draw sanctions in the future as well (Rossow, 2019). U.S. sanctions may cause India to retaliate; currently India is considering placing tariffs on U.S. goods in response to American tariffs on steel and aluminum (Rossow, 2019). Thus, Modi’s reelection will have mixed implications for its military and economic relationships with both the U.S. and Pakistan.
Ayres, Alyssa. “Modi’s Thumping Mandate—but for What?.” Council on Foreign Relations. Last modified May 24, 2019. https://www.cfr.org/article/modis-thumping-mandate-what.
CNBC. “The impact of Indian elections on US-India relations.” Filmed May 22, 2019, Video, 3:14. https://www.cnbc.com/video/2019/05/23/the-impact-of-indian-elections-on-us- india-relations.html.
Das, Krishna N. “Modi begins talks for new cabinet after big election win.” Reuters, May 24, 2019.
Interview with Tanvi Madan. The Current Podcast – Brookings Institution. Podcast audio. May 24, 2019. https://www.brookings.edu/podcast-episode/what-does-pm-modis-landslide-win-mean-for-india/.
ISPR. “Pakistan conducted successful training launch of surface to surface ballistic missile Shaheen-II.” Last modified May 23, 2019. https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release- detail.php?id=5308.
Pal, Alasdair. “Pakistan not invited to Modi’s swearing-in: sources.” Reuters, May 27, 2019.
Rossow, Richard M. “Indian Elections and U.S. Ties: Time to Break Roadblocks.” Center for Strategic and International Studies. Last modified May 24, 2019. https://www.csis.org/analysis/indian-elections-and-us-ties-time-break-roadblocks.
Schmall, Emily. “Modi surges to victory in India on Hindu-first platform.” Associate Press, May 23, 2019.
Wu, Jin and Jefferey Gettleman. “India Election 2019: A Simple Guide to the World’s Largest Vote.” New York Times, May 22, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/world/asia/india-election.html#hed-1.