Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation during Independence Day celebrations in Delhi, August 2015.
Adnan Abidi / REUTERS

Last week, India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in the populous North Indian state of Bihar without a single vote cast or campaign rally staged. In a dramatic reversal that Bollywood screenwriters could only dream of, the state’s chief minister Nitish Kumar—an on-again, off-again partner of the BJP—unceremoniously dumped his coalition allies in order to make common cause once more with the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Then, over the weekend, 12 BJP ministers were formally inducted into Kumar’s revamped cabinet.

The upheaval is only the latest signal that the BJP is the

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