Chinese media bets on PM Narendra Modi in 2019 after Uttar Pradesh win

"PM Modi's latest triumph also stems from his firm stance on development as well as efforts to carry out economic reform and attract foreign investment," reported Chinese daily.

China's strategic experts and state media appear to be betting on Prime Minister Modi repeating his Uttar Pradesh triumph in 2019 and securing a second term.

A commentary on Monday by strategic expert Zhen Bo in the Communist Party-run Global Times said the "BJP has achieved dominance" but added it was "still uncertain if the BJP can prevail in 2019".

Another commentary in the same paper on Thursday said Modi was in pole position for 2019, and that China should grasp this changed reality in Indian politics by expecting a "firm and tough" posture from India both domestically and in foreign policy.

"Modi was elected for his pursuit of development," the paper said last week. "His latest triumph also stems from his firm stance on development as well as efforts to carry out economic reform and attract foreign investment. Even though some actions failed to deliver good results, still, he proved that he is a man of action, rather than a politician with only slogans."

This would yield for China "an opportunity to give more consideration over how to make breakthroughs in Beijing-New Delhi relations with a hard-line Indian government", suggested the Global Times, which is not an official paper but a tabloid published by the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily that is known to reflect the views of some officials and sections in the party.

In another commentary on Monday, Zhen Bo, assistant research fellow at the Center for South Asia-West China Cooperation and Development Studies, Institute of South Asian Studies, Sichuan University, wrote that "the BJP has achieved dominance but will India be stable? That depends on the performance of the party. It is still uncertain if the BJP can prevail in 2019."

"As some Indian analysts questioned, will the BJP, beyond occasional inclusive rhetoric, be willing to experiment with less polarisation and forge a larger coalition through expansive spending, a gentler approach to minorities and judicious patron-client processes that could be politically profitable too? We need to wait and see," he concluded.

He wrote that the UP result would "substantially influence the political balance in India and has always been seen as the signpost of the voters' attitude across India." "The prime minister's popularity has been validated throughout this election, in which he made himself and his actions the main issue in many public speeches. The ability of Modi to deliver landslide victory results like in UP consolidates his position within the party," he said.

He did however add a note of caution, saying that high expectations would pose a challenge. "Generally speaking, a decisive and aggressive leader will also make mistakes. The lack of restraint from the party will probably result in Modi having a free hand to make decisions on more crucial issues. The total absence of dissent in the BJP, unusual for a ruling party in India, is the result of everyone submitting to the authority."

"People are now looking forward to witnessing further economic reforms such as rollout of the goods and services tax, faster infrastructure development and job creation," he said. "The market is also expecting that in the 2019 election, the BJP will have a majority in Rajya Sabha, facilitating even faster liberalization. However, based on the current situation, the market may find this goal hard to achieve.

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