As India votes, a streetwise pol proves pragmatism often trumps ideology


KOLKATA, India — For decades, Tapas Roy’s influence has permeated his local district like the summer heat in West Bengal. He has found jobs for the unemployed. He has managed a college scholarship for the poor. He has provided stipends for widows.

In March, the longtime local politician quit his centrist, secular Trinamool Congress party and accepted the right-wing, Hindu nationalist BJP’s offer to run for Parliament in the national elections currently underway. In America, it would be difficult to imagine Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis running for president as a Democrat after failing to secure the 2024 Republican nomination. But in northern Kolkata, longtime Trinamool voters have shrugged at Roy’s leap across the aisle, saying they’ll support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, too.

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