Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he delivers his Independence Day speech ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

An Assault on India’s Institutions

If the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's assault on India’s institutions – from the judiciary to the central bank to the free press – is allowed to continue, the public could lose faith in the system altogether. This would carry incalculable consequences for India’s most valuable asset: its democracy.

NEW DELHI – In India’s Karnataka state, the governor is favoring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form a government, despite an opposition coalition having won more seats in the state legislature. The ongoing controversy has drawn attention to the way in which a constitutional position has been reduced to serving the political interests of India’s ruling party.

Strong public institutions that operate above the cut and thrust of the political fray are vital to any democracy. Yet in the last four years, every such priceless institution in the world’s largest democracy, India, has come under threat, as the BJP’s assertive Hindu-chauvinist government works to consolidate its own authority.

Leave aside governors (the BJP asked all to resign to make way for political appointees soon after its 2014 election victory) and start with the judicial system, which has come under scrutiny since January, when the Supreme Court’s four most senior judges held an unprecedented press conference to question Chief Justice Dipak Misra’s allocation of cases. Misra, their comments implied, was assigning cases to his preferred judges, presumably (though this was never stated) in an effort to secure outcomes favoring the government.

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