BJP members, including a man with a Modi mask, celebrate outside the Party office in Bengaluru, India. Photo: Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Four years in, and one year from the next general election, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains highly popular despite not delivering the massive economic strides some expected.

The big picture: With his right-leaning Bharatiya Janata Party's recent gains in the Southern state of Karnataka, there are few places left in India where Modi's agenda doesn't reign supreme.

Why he's popular

Five big reasons why Modi attained and maintained his popularity, from Shailesh Kumar, Eurasia Group's South Asia director:

  1. He's a talented orator.
  2. He's a brilliant political tactician. "I've never seen anything like what [Modi and BJP] pull off time and time again," Kumar says, noting the victory in Karnataka.
  3. He tapped into a national anxiety. Similarly to President Trump, Modi and the BJP spoke to India's Hindu majority, which felt sidelined by certain policies of the left-leaning Congress party.
  4. He promised economic development. For millions of voters, the 2014 election was about who could turn India into a normal, developed country. And Modi said he could.
  5. The opposition is weak. Congress has not been able to organize its leadership for decades.
How he has fared

Aparna Pande, a regional expert at the Hudson Institute, notes that the economy has grown during Modi's tenure, but not to the extent he promised.

    • He implemented a country-wide goods and services tax, eliminating the state-by-state tax systems. That will make it easier to do business in India and encourage growth in the long run, but those effects aren't apparent yet, Pande says.
    • He ordered demonetization to move India away from its reliance on cash and foster the growth of digital transactions, but the vast majority of the country still prefers cash.
  • The social issues: Modi has delivered key social changes that are central issues for his Hindu base, including a ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter.

The bottom line: "As is the case with any populist leader, people will still believe them if they see them as being different than the current establishment."

Go deeper

Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
Ina Fried, author of Login
29 mins ago - Science

CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.

Ted Cruz doesn't think the Hunter Biden attacks are working

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told "Axios on HBO" he doesn't think the Trump campaign's focus on the Biden family's business dealings are having any sway with voters.

The big picture: After watching the Trump-Biden debate with "Axios on HBO" on Thursday night, Cruz said he thought Trump had done very well. But when asked whether he thought voters were moved by the release of the Hunter Biden emails, Cruz replied, "I don't think it moves a single voter."

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!