Only the US has more coronavirus cases than India. But unlike Trump, its leader seems immune from criticism

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But whereas other populist leaders are feeling the political heat from their handling of the pandemic — US President Donald Trump and his British counterpart Boris Johnson, for instance — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has largely escaped the scathing headlines and crushing opinion polls that have beleaguered his counterparts. ]]]]>]]> Modi’s landslide re-election for a second five-year term last year gave him a sweeping mandate to push his Hindu nationalist agenda, in a country where 80% of the population is Hindu. Asim Ali, a researcher at the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research think-tank, said the Indian leader is seen as a “national messiah” who is working on a grander agenda to reshape the Indian nation and is not accountable for day-to-day government failures.”Modi has staked out for himself the role of not just the political leader of India, but also its social, moral and spiritual leader, in the mold of Mahatma Gandhi,” Ali said.Over the past year, Modi has made steady headway on Hindu nationalist policies, from revoking the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, to backing a controversial citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims. But his second-term aspirations to revitalize the economy now …

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