The Rise of India’s Second Republic

Issue Date July 2024
Volume 35
Issue 3
Page Numbers 38–56
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At first glance, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s narrow 2024 general election victory — a win only made possible thanks to the cooperation of alliance partners — suggests a return to a previous era of coalition government in India. While the ruling party may be weakened, the nature of the political order has fundamentally shifted in ways that will have a lasting impact on Indian democracy. India is witnessing the dawn of a “Second Republic,” an inflection point that is equal in magnitude to the constitutional moment in 1950, when India’s “First Republic” was established. Several elements of the Second Republic were visible prior to these elections, and the BJP’s narrow victory has not dislodged them. The nature of electoral democracy, liberal constitutionalism, national identity, secularism, and federalism have all undergone significant transformations. Yet, true to India’s nature, its new political settlement cannot be readily captured using simple binary distinctions. 

About the Author

Milan Vaishnav is senior fellow and director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.

View all work by Milan Vaishnav

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