Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently led his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a sweeping electoral victory in Uttar Pradesh, the country's most-populous state, as well as garnering vigorous support in several other major state elections. It has not only increased Modi's chance to win in India's 2019 general elections, some even predict he is already set for a second term. Since Beijing-New Delhi ties have recently entered a subtle and delicate phase, observers soon started to pay close attention to how the bilateral relationship will develop after Modi tightens his grip on power.
Modi was elected for his pursuit of development. 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.
Modi's hard-line attitude is embodied in both his domestic policies, such as the ban on high-value currency notes, and in his diplomatic logic. In the international arena, he changed India's previous attitude of trying never to offend anyone and started to take a clear stance in controversies among other nations to maximize its own interests. He enhanced New Delhi's ties with China and Moscow and applied to be a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Yet he also upgraded defense collaboration with the US and Japan, articulated his support for the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific strategy and Washington's stance on the South China Sea issue.
If Modi wins the next election, India's current firm and tough manner is bound to continue. It will be without question good news for the country's own development. Nevertheless, it will likely mean more difficulties in making compromises in rows with other countries. Take the border disputes between Beijing and New Delhi. No silver lining has yet emerged and Modi demonstrated his firm stance over the issue by celebrating Diwali, India's biggest holiday, with soldiers at the Sino-Indian border.
But while seeming inflexible on the surface, hard-liners also have powerful strength in coming to an agreement with others once they make up their mind, given their executive ability and high efficiency. That said, we can still be optimistic in resolving our divergences, including border disputes, with New Delhi during Modi's term as long as both sides are willing. For China, it is also an opportunity to give more consideration over how to make breakthroughs in Beijing-New Delhi relations with a hard-line Indian government.