With the world’s biggest democratic exercise now complete, India has decided to give another five years to the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP is on course to win even bigger than it did the last time; with a projected win in roughly 340 seats out of a total of 542 – with only 272 needed to form government, the ruling coalition looks comfortable and the task of forming government will not be overly complicated.

Leaders of the losing Indian National Congress party have admitted that they are shocked at the way this defeat was meted out. However, with the next five years to sit on the side lines and think about mistakes made in the election campaign, Congress Party will have to change something significant in the makeup of the party to ensure that it comes back into power.

Prime Minister Modi’s victory comes at the back of a Hindu-nationalist election campaign with promises of economic development and greater security. The victory for BJP reflects the Indian public’s willingness to forgo the ideal secular state envisioned by the country’s forefathers and instead keep it steadily moving towards religious nationalism.

From selecting candidates that have pending cases of terrorism against them, to banging war drums against Pakistan in a bid to tip the scales in support of BJP using nationalistic fervour; BJP’s election campaign worked swimmingly, but the next five years are likely to see India slip deeper towards bigotry and prejudice.

There were hopes among moderates that the disappointment from the BJP government’s failure to make the economy grow as was promised would lead to – at the very least – a smaller majority for the Modi-led government. With an agricultural sector crisis, rising unemployment and failed aggression tactics against Pakistan, the Indian election tells us that perceptions are more important than reality and ultimately, it does not matter whether the Modi government granted approval to a botched mission in the Balakot strike or not, what mattered for the voters was that he chose to act at all.

In matters of foreign policy concerning Pakistan, we need look no further than Balakot or the “surgical strikes” India claimed to launch in 2016. When the BJP came into office under Modi in the previous elections, there was optimism that the warmongering election campaign would be left behind and a Vajpayee-like diplomacy would resume, where the two states could be closer than ever before. However, the past five years have served as a lesson, and while Prime Minister Imran Khan has already congratulated PM Modi and extended a gesture of peace, friendship and positive relations, we cannot expect this overture to be responded to in kind. The next five years will be a difficult time for both regional stability and progressive thought in India.