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Domestic friction hits India's image globally

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30.12.2019

As 2019 ends, it is time to review the Narendra Modi government’s diplomatic performance over the past year and the global geo-strategic scenario for 2020. In the first half of the year, the Modi government successfully shaped a national security narrative, using the Pulwama terror strike and India’s retaliatory air attack on Balakot to capture over 300 seats in the Lok Sabha elections.

The second half, however, has resulted in electoral and political setbacks. Starting with the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 and the lockdown of Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP did poorly in two crucial state elections, despite brandishing its “strong” leadership. In Haryana, the BJP formed a government only by embracing a Jat party it had tried to electorally marginalise. In Maharashtra, it drew Prime Minister Modi into the fiasco of the midnight lifting of President’s Rule and the swearing-in of a BJP government that lacked a majority and fell swiftly. Ignoring the people who sought focus on the economy and development, the BJP leapt into amending the Citizenship Act to allow Indian citizenship for victims of religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, except Muslims. Breaching the non-sectarian foundation of India’s Constitution, it triggered protests by students, incensed over the police barging into Jamia Millia Islamia without the sanction of university authorities and employing brute force. The trouble soon spread to many states and cities.

Naturally, global attention was drawn to the sectarian laws and draconian police repression of peaceful protests. The US state department, the UN and the Organisation of Islamic Conference began expressing their concern. External affairs minister S. Jaishankar undiplomatically boycotted a meeting with the US........

© The Asian Age