Modi supporters in Gujarat. (Amit Dave / Courtesy Reuters)

When the controversial Indian politician Narendra Modi sailed to reelected victory last month in regional elections in Gujarat, it was difficult to find anyone who didn't have the urge to cry. Some shed tears of joy and others of despair, but any reaction in between was rare. Modi, a member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is at once celebrated for his dedication to good governance and economic growth and reviled for his autocratic style of governing and alleged role in the brutal violence waged against his state's minority Muslim community in 2002. Given the passionate feelings that surround him, Modi's emergence on the national political scene as India's attention turns to countrywide elections in 2014 could open up a rare substantive debate about the role of government in the world's largest democracy.

After the results of Gujarat's election were announced, Modi

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.

  • MILAN VAISHNAV is an Associate with the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. You can follow him on Twitter @MilanV.
  • More By Milan Vaishnav