Disappointing Victory

5 June 2024


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Modi Wins Third Term with Plurality


India, the biggest democracy in the world, held a general election over the last six weeks. Casting and counting all those votes, 640 million of them, in a country as diverse in geography and climate, and culture, as India takes time. Prime Minister Narenda Modi led his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party to a victory that disappointed. While he secured a third term, he lost his majority and will rely on allies to keep himself in power. Meanwhile, the Congress-I Party, which has lost its post-independence allure, failed to unset him, but they are ecstatic that he did so poorly.

In the lower house of the Indian parliament, there are 543 seats, meaning a majority is 272. Mr. Modi secured just 240, a loss of 62. Reuters reported this morning, "On Wednesday, two allies in his National Democratic Alliance coalition, the Telugu Desam Party, a key regional player in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, and the Janata Dal (United) which rules the northern state of Bihar, pledged their support."

This means that Mr. Modi will be able to govern, but he will have less control over this next cabinet than he did over the previous one. Reuters also reported, "Both regional allies, the TDP and JD-(U), are considered pragmatists on economic policy, but Modi's new government is likely to need to find money to fund more spending on welfare projects in their states." And what happens if he fails on that score? He could face a vote of no confidence. That would have been almost unthinkable in the previous parliament.

How did the BJP find itself in this position? The fact is that voters get tired of leaders after a few years. Third terms in India :do not happen, except for Mr. Nehru decades ago and now Mr. Modi. That is not enough, however. The BBC explained: 

The BJP's significant drop in seats may be linked to joblessness, rising prices, growing inequality and a controversial army recruitment reform, among other things. Mr Modi's harsh and divisive campaign, particularly targeting Muslims, could also have alienated voters in some regions.

His ambitious slogan "Ab ki baar, 400 paar," aiming for more than 400 seats for his NDA alliance, may have backfired, with such a massive majority raising fears of constitutional changes among the poor.

In his third term, he still has much to do by his own standards. He has vowed to turn India into a $10 trillion economy, and that is going to require investment, education and massive government for business.

The Associated Press reported,

For Payal, a resident of the northern city of Lucknow who uses only one name, the election was about the economy and India’s vast number of people living in poverty.

"People are suffering, there are no jobs, people are in such a state that their kids are compelled to make and sell tea on the roadside," Payal said. "This is a big deal for us. If we don’t wake up now, when will we?"

But the result is going to make that much harder. "At the very least, the result pricks the bubble Prime Minister Modi's authority. He made this election about himself," said Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a political commentator. "Today, he is just another politician, cut to size by the people," he said in an article in The Indian Express daily.

One is quite certain there will be no fourth term.

© Copyright 2024 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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