A powerful wind of change swept across India last week, and the country, the world’s largest democracy, will never be the same again. A nation of 1.2 billion people went to the polls to vote for a new parliament, and the result was a landslide victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP, a Hindu nationalist movement, won 282 of the 545 seats in the Lok Sabha, parliament’s lower house, the first time in more than 30 years that a single party has won a majority.
The big loser was the governing Congress Party, which led India to independence in 1947 under Jawaharlal Nehru. The Congress won only a humiliating 44 seats, a stunning setback for the secular, left-leaning party that has dominated India’s politics, either alone or in a coalition, for most of the 67 years since independence.