Gujarat Under Modi

Laboratory of Today's India

Part of the Comparative Politics and International Studies Series Christophe Jaffrelot (ed.) series
March 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.


‘There are few writers with the rigour and knowledge of Modi’s career like Jaffrelot … [Gujarat Under Modi] is a demanding but essential read about how one of the world’s most effective politicians built his political base and brand.’ — Financial Times

‘[A] richly detailed book… . There are lessons here that reach beyond India’s borders.’ — Labour Hub

‘A scholarly and empirical study … The information and analysis presented in Gujarat Under Modi are vital for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Indian politics and the crisis of democracy in the Third World.’ — Ghanshyam Shah, retired professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and former Director, Centre for Social Studies, Surat, Gujarat

‘Professor Jaffrelot has worked on the manuscript painstakingly for over two decades, and the thoroughness of his primary and secondary research are apparent. It will be read widely by academics, journalists, and civil society in India as well as by those interested in this distinctive case of alt-right populism that is visible across democracies worldwide.’ — Uday Chandra, Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown University, Qatar

‘A magisterial analysis of Narendra Modi’s systematic subversion of democracy in Gujarat … Every institution was subjugated to his personal control – even his own party. Bigotry, vigilantism and cronyism thrived. Essential reading to understand Modi’s effort to suffocate India’s democracy.’ — James Manor, School of Advanced Study, University of London

‘Jaffrelot brings his trademark mastery of deep archives and a wealth of sources to provide a definitive account of how Gujarat became the laboratory of Hindutva, drawing on two decades of research. A landmark work for anyone interested in modern India’s deep changes in recent decades.’ — Thomas Blom Hansen, Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University

‘Chronicles the violent bricolage assembled through amplifying the securitisation of society, deep state mobilisations, debasement of institutions, casteism and minoritisation, criminalisation of dissent, and viral propaganda. Jaffrelot’s consummate account demonstrates how this massive and populist undertaking led to Modi’s extraordinary influence, and Hindu nationalism’s incursion to take over India.’ — Angana P. Chatterji, University of California, Berkeley


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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