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Making friends with India victor

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India's voters, fed up with a gridlocked political system, have given their mandate to a controversial state governor with the reputation for promoting economic growth, outspoken Hindu nationalism and strong-arm political tactics. He vows to get things done and his record suggests he may well succeed. Economically, at least, that would be a good thing for the world's largest democracy.

Taking over as prime minister, Narendra Modi promised to bring his governing approach in the state of Gujarat in northwestern India - "no red tape, only red carpet" for businesses - to the nation as a whole.

The 2014 elections to the Lok Sabha, India's lower House of Parliament, were remarkable for a number of reasons. Mr. Modi's Baharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its minor coalition members gained 336 seats of 572, the first time in 30 years that a parliamentary election has resulted in an outright majority.

The long-ruling Congress Party, led for generations by the Nehru-Gandhi family, won just 44 seats, its fewest ever.

Mr. Modi himself is a controversial figure for his stance on Muslim rights. The BJP has been noted for its disdain for India's Muslim minority.

But the prime-minister-elect has invited Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his swearing-in, a gesture that may indicate a welcome softening of the BJP's outspoken nationalist rhetoric.

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Over the last decade, tensions have occasionally flared between the U.S. and India - and the U.S. and Mr. Modi.

Then-Gov. Modi's tolerance of deadly anti-Muslim riots in Gujurat in 2002 prompted the Bush administration to deny him a visa in 2005 under a law barring entry into the U.S. to foreigners who have committed "particularly severe violations of religious freedom."

And India's government expressed outrage last December when one of its diplomats was arrested by and strip-searched by U.S. authorities in New York City. She was charged with making false statements on a visa application for her housekeeper, whose husband contended that she was being kept in "slavery-like conditions." India's government protested, claiming the arrest violated diplomatic immunity. A federal judge in New York ordered the charges dropped in March.

But U.S.-India relations are improving. After last week's election, President Obama lifted the ban on Mr. Modi coming to the U.S., inviting him to make a state visit.

Apparently President Obama is also inclined to cut red tape - and to roll out the red carpet - for India's populist champion of free-wheeling economic growth.

And that's the right American response to the Indian electorate's choice of Mr. Modi as the top elected official in the world's most populous democracy.

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