The Congress under Rahul Gandhi is over

Delhi / Vienna. Once in the Philippines. That is the difference in the number of eligible voters between the Lok Sabha (parliamentary) elections in 2009 and the elections currently taking place. In 2009, 714 million Indians were eligible to vote; in this year's elections, which have been running from April 7th to May 12th, the figure is 815 million. You can already guess that India is a very young country: 46.6 percent of the population are under 24 years of age (Austria 25.2 percent).

And this choice, at least the observers say, is one of the most important in many years. Because in this election, so predict many polls, the Congress party threatens a failure and the Hindu nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may face the next prime minister, Narendra Modi, the largest democracy in the world.

But the problems begin with Modi: the son of a chai wallah (tea seller), who in his childhood also sold tea himself at Vadnagar train station (around 100 kilometers north of Ahmedabad, the provincial capital of Gujarat), is in the eyes of many voters as a self-mademan of modest origin, a pleasant contrast to his opponent Rahul Gandhi. Gandhi is the opposite of Modi: Gandhi is the youngest offspring of the powerful Gandhi Nehru clan, which has determined the fate of the country since India gained independence from the former colonial ruler Great Britain on August 15, 1947. He was born to one day take over the office of prime minister.

And that is exactly Rahul Gandhi's problem. The opposition alleges that Rahul, great-grandson of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, grandson of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and son of father Rajiv Gandhi, who was killed in an assassination attempt in 1991, and his mother Sonia Gandhi, regard the office of Prime Minister as a family lease . After all: Rahul's mother Sonia resigned from office when the Congress party won the election in 2004 and left the stage to the economist Manmohan Singh.

But back to Modi: The chief minister - something like a governor or prime minister - of the highly developed Indian state of Gujarat (this is where the governor comparisons come to an end again, because Gujarat's population is similar to that of Italy with around 60 million inhabitants) popular with the business elite, he is preceded by the reputation of a hands-on, business-friendly doer.

Dark shadow of the pogrom

But there is also a dark shadow over his reign over Gujarat. In 2002, 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus died in pogroms against Muslims following an attack by violent Muslims on a train occupied by Hindu pilgrims in February 2002, in which 59 people were again killed. To this day, Modi is accused of failing to do enough to stop the killing. His membership of the radical Hindu cadre organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) does nothing to silence those voices who accuse him of having acted as a silent aid to the pogroms. Of course, he was never accused of any concrete facts from the official side.

At the same time there is criticism from the left intelligentsia that Modi is cuddling too closely with the Indian oligarchs and hopes that the 2002 massacre will be forgotten: For example, the Indian author Arundhati Roy writes in her recently published book "Capitalism - A ghost story": "Those who saw their loved ones raped, butchered and burned alive, and the tens of thousands evicted from their homes, await a gesture of justice to this day. But Modi has his saffron-colored scarf and his pewter red." I exchanged my colored forehead for a stylish suit and hopes that the announced investments of 450 billion dollars will pay off the blood money and settle the bill. "

And it is not just representatives of the left who are loudly voicing their reservations about Modi. Recently, the respected business magazine "The Economist" warned in an editorial about a Prime Minister Modi: A country in which the conflicts between the different ethno-religious groups are only slumbering under the surface, a man like Modi is one at the head of the country Miscast.

Opinions differ as to whether under Prime Minister Narendra Modi there is a threat of a deterioration in relations between India and Pakistan: On the one hand, observers from Modi expect a tougher line towards Pakistan. In view of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and thus an expansion of the conflict arena to the country in the Hindu Kush, there is another potential source of conflict between the two warring nuclear powers. For a number of years now, India has been trying, with some success, to get a foot in the door in Afghanistan. The Pakistani secret service ISI in turn supports the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, who have repeatedly targeted Indian diplomatic institutions and Indian citizens in Afghanistan. In the Indian province of Kashmir, which is claimed by Pakistan, Islamabad has been supporting Islamic separatists for decades. All of these conflicts could fuel Modi, observers fear.

But there are also voices like the Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz, who assured the British daily "The Daily Telegraph" that Pakistan would also work with Modi without any problems. Aziz recalled that it was a prime minister of the BJP, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had taken great strides to improve relations between the two countries. "Before the elections, politics is always a little different, more nationalistic and so on. But after the elections you have to take care of state affairs," Aziz is quoted in the Daily Telegraph.

According to a survey by the television broadcaster NDTV (over 200,000 respondents), voters see the greatest problem in possible greater tensions between Hindus and Muslims if Modi wins the election. But the election has not yet run.