Conceptualizing the Links Between Populism, Nationalism and Foreign Policy: How Modi Constructed a Nationalist, Anti-establishment Electoral Coalition in India
Drawing on a poststructuralist, discourse theoretical framework, the chapter analyzes how the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader Narendra Modi have used foreign policy as a site for the construction and maintenance of a populist electoral coalition. The chapter understands populism, nationalism and foreign policy as discourses that construct collective identities by drawing and institutionalizing distinct political boundaries between Self and Other. Identifying these distinct political logics, the chapter argues that Modi’s BJP has shaped a populist-nationalist discourse that asserts to represent the ‘true’ people that must be protected from a corrupt establishment that is accused of siding with and appeasing the foreign Other. In this context, the chapter also illuminates the ideological dimension of populism and explains why subjects desire to identify with such discourses. In contrast to common understandings of ideology as ‘distortion of reality’, it argues that the ideological dimension of populism lies in masking over the discursive character of what we view as social reality and the resulting impossibility of a fully constituted subject such as ‘the people’.
KeywordsPopulism Foreign policy India Identity Discourse
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