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Is the BJP dangerous?
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The BJP is not unusual in the global landscape

The BJP is not particularly, or uniquely, dangerous. Other countries are just as bad – if not worse.
BJP India Nationalism Populism
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The Argument

The world is witnessing a global rise of nationalism and populism from Trump to Brexit, from Japan to Turkey, Brazil, Italy and the Philippines.[1] India was the first democracy to elect a populist government.[2] Populism and nationalism are distinct ways of constructing and claiming to represent “the people”, as underdog and as nation respectively.[3] They are not synonymous, but in India they are entwined concepts. The global economic crisis has been one contributing factor to the rise of nationalism in countries where particular groups feel disadvantaged and fear or experience a loss of status, something they blame on globalisation, immigration or a dilution of national identity.[4] Nationalism today includes protectionism, isolationism, xenophobia and anti-elite discourse.[1] Populism seeks to represent ‘the people’ against an elite, with people frustrated with the political establishment.[4] Right-wing populism has different features in different countries but they do tend to share xenophobic, nationalistic traits, and a tendency toward authoritarianism and, aggressive leadership.[5] India’s populist government has given voice to a sense of grievance and distrust among the Hindu majority.[2] The achievements of independent India – secularism, liberalism and a free press - somehow came to be portrayed by BJP as part of a grand conspiracy in which a Hindu elite and the Muslim minority somehow dominate the Hindu majority.[2][1] This does not make the BJP dangerous, however - they are simply part of a global trend of nationalism and populism.

Counter arguments

Although nationalist and populist governments are widespread, in India they represent a threat to liberal democracy, the character of the Indian state and the place of minorities.[2] The world does not need another national populist leader who pursues a pro-business agenda while trading in fake news and treating minorities as second-class citizens.[6]


[P1] There is a global trend towards nationalist and populist governments. [P2] The BJP is simply part of this trend.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] This does not make the BJP any less dangerous.

Further Reading

Applebaum, A. (2018) A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come. The Atlantic. Ammassari, S. (2017) Contemporary Populism in India: Assessing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Ideological Features, Institu Barcelona Estudis Internacionals. Bieber, F. (2018) Is Nationalism on the Rise? Assessing Global Trends, Ethnopolitics, 17:5, 519-540, DOI: 10.1080/17449057.2018.1532633 Casado, J.A.R. (2019) Articulations of populism and nationalism: The case of the Catalan independence movement, European Politics and Society, DOI: 10.1080/23745118.2019.1686945 Müller, J-W. 2016. What Is Populism? Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Urbinati, N. 2017. Populism and the Principle of Majority. In Kaltwasser, C. R., P. Taggart, P. O. Espejo and P. Ostiguy. The Oxford Handbook on Populism, pp. 571-590. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 14:38 UTC

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