New Delhi, Jan. 11 -- Did the republic of India elect the greatest threat in its history to power in 2014? In a 2017 essay in Seminar, psephologist and social scientist Yogendra Yadav, who is also a politician, argued yes. Other crises, such as the Emergency, had posed grave threats to one or other element of the democratic experiment, Yadav wrote. But the emphatic rise and sustained support for Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) indicated the formation of a consensus in favour of an authoritarian and majoritarian state, uniquely willing and able to overturn the constitutional promise Indians made to themselves in 1950.

Whatever anyone's doubts about that, most BJP voters certainly looked to Modi as a transformative politician. H...