INDIA’S national parliament, the Lok Sabha, sits for barely 70 days a year. The shortest of its three sessions normally starts in mid-November. This year, though, the government has given MPs an extra month’s holiday. The reason: Gujarat, a bastion of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and home state of Narendra Modi, the prime minister, will hold a staggered election on December 9th and 14th for a new state legislature.
Why should Mr Modi want to delay the business of state for a whole month, just to go campaigning in a middling state of only 66m people? Party spokesmen say this is the BJP’s style; it takes every election seriously. But opponents say the party is scared of losing on its home turf.
If opinion polls are to be believed, the BJP has reason to worry. As recently as August, according to the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, a Delhi think-tank with long polling experience, the BJP held an unassailable-looking 30-point lead over its main rival,...Continue reading