Gujarat Under Modi

Laboratory of Today's India

Part of the Comparative Politics and International Studies Series Christophe Jaffrelot (ed.) series
April 2024 9781849044295 416pp
EU Customers


In 2012 Narendra Modi became the first Hindu nationalist politician thrice elected to lead a state of the Indian Union, his stewardship as Chief Minister of Gujarat being the longest in that state’s history. Modi and his BJP supporters explained his achievement by pointing to economic growth under his leadership, yet detractors point out that Modi has been more business-friendly than market-friendly—to the benefit of large industrial corporations, and at the cost of great social polarisation.

In 2002, an anti-Muslim pogrom of unparalleled ferocity occurred in Gujarat, leading to the biggest number of Muslim deaths since Partition. The state’s Hindu majority immediately rallied around Modi. No serious riot has occurred in Gujarat since, but polarisation was key to Modi’s strategy there, and he has deployed that strategy again and again since he became Prime Minister of India in 2014. For Modi has cultivated a communal image. A marketing genius, his messaging combines the politics of Hindutva with economic modernisation, to the clear appreciation of Gujarat’s middle class.

Christophe Jaffrelot’s revealing book shows how Modi’s Gujarat served as the laboratory of Modi’s India, not only in terms of Hindu majoritarianism and national populism, but also of caste and class politics.


‘An account of the prime minister of India’s time as chief minister of his home state — a period defined by a combination of economic growth and religious polarisation and pogroms which the author argues served as a template for national government.’ — Financial Times


Christophe Jaffrelot is Avantha Chair and Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at the King’s India Institute, and Research Lead for the Global Institutes, King’s College London. He teaches at Sciences Po CERI, where he was director between 2000 and 2008.

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