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India heads to the polls as a much lesser democracy

In his recent speeches, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed confidence in returning to power for a third consecutive term as the country prepares for parliamentary elections to be held in seven phases from April 19 to June 1 this year.

On February 18, in his speech at the National Council of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the prime minister confidently stated that despite the polls being months away, he was already receiving invitations from other nations for events after the elections, suggesting widespread anticipation of his return to power.

Moreover, he boldly proclaimed that the ruling alliance would secure more than 400 seats in parliament, a majority rarely witnessed in Indian politics.

While his supporters claim Modi’s popularity and his party’s perceived integrity allow for such audacious predictions, the opposition argues that the prime minister’s confidence stems from his government’s tightening stranglehold on the nation’s democratic institutions, law enforcement agencies and even media.

On March 20, one of the opposition’s principal leaders, Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, was arrested on corruption charges lodged by the central government’s anti-corruption agency.

Kejriwal is the second chief minister to have been arrested by the central agency in the last two months. Only last month, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate hours after his resignation.

While the cases of the Jharkhand and Delhi chief ministers are the most high-profile, they are not the only ones where the Enforcement Directorate has gone after politicians who oppose the Modi government.

In many states across India, politicians with corruption cases against them have