India election 2024: Why Modi failed to win outright majority

India election 2024: Why Modi failed to win outright majority

Soutik Biswas,India correspondent, @soutikBBC

AFP India's Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Narendra Modi (C) with chief minister of Maharashtra state Eknath Shinde (L) and their deputy chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis (R) waves to the crowd during his roadshow in Mumbai on May 15, 2024, ahead of the fifth phase of voting of India's general election. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP) (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPEPAFP

In a little tighter standard election than expected, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on track to win a third consecutive term.

His Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) looks set to fall short of a lot and is leading just in the 543- chair parliament, below the expected 272 tickets. However, its partnership colleagues have gained more seats.

The outcomes are a private blow to Mr. Modi, who has always won over voters as both the state’s main minister and the country’s prime minister and has dominated politics for ten years.

The Congress Party-led INDIA criticism alliance’s restoration is unexpected, defying earlier forecasts and significantly different from both exit polls and pre-election studies.

More than 640 million citizens voted in a triathlon seven- year election, hailed as a “world report” by vote authorities. Nearly 50 % of the citizens were people.

Getty Images 4: Indian National Congress (INC) Party leader Rahul Gandhi speaks during a press conference at the Congress Party headquarters in New Delhi, India on June 4, 2024. (Getty Images

In their second terms of office, some world leaders have scurried across the finish line, and Mr. Modi is no exception. The BJP remains India’s second largest group by seats, and if Mr Modi secures a second term with his allies, the prime secretary matches the history of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first leading.

However, the significant reduction of seats for his party, which is more than 50, devalues a second term, particularly given Mr. Modi’s campaign’s target of 400 alliance seats, making something less seem like an underachieving achievement.

This has caused some cheer in the Congress station and some desperation in the BJP camps. Despite the fact that the BJP is the largest party by size, some of their supporters are disheartened by the hype and expectations.

Mr Modi’s supporters believe securing a second word can be attributed to many factors: a record of steady governance, the attractiveness of continuity, successful welfare programmes, and the perception that he has enhanced India’s international image.

Mr. Modi delivered on important manifesto promises to his Hindu nationalist base, including reviving Kashmir’s autonomy, establishing the Ram temple in Ayodhya, and passing a contentious citizenship law. Many BJP-ruled states have passed laws to tighten the laws governing interfaith unions.

AFP : A billboard along an expressway presents a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) advertisement, featuring India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi promising a developed India, in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India on 24 April 2024.AFP

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.

Mr Modi’s party faced its largest setback in Uttar Pradesh (UP), a state larger than the United Kingdom and three times as populous. With 80 parliamentary seats, UP holds significant sway in national politics – many consider it the gateway to Delhi. Both Mr Modi and Rahul Gandhi hold seats there.

AFP ndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the public rally at Brigade ground on April 3, 2019 in Kolkata, India. AAFP

So what are the main takeaways of this election?

A dent of Brand Modi

Mr. Modi’s popularity has also been attributed to his mastery of branding, which turned ordinary events into spectacles and clever messaging. He also gained a favorable media and a weak opposition, which both helped him establish his brand.

Even Mr. Modi is susceptible to anti-incumbency, according to the election results, which indicate that Brand Modi has lost some of its shine. In other words, he is not as invincible as many of his supporters believed. This offers renewed hope to the opposition.

A return to coalition politics

India has a history of chaotic coalition governments, although some in the early 1990s and 2000s played a significant role in implementing economic reforms.

If the BJP forms the government, it will rely on allies and need to take a more consultative and thoughtful stance.

If allies feel neglected, this dependency makes it vulnerable to collapse. The party, once perceived as all- powerful, is now reliant on allies, unlike in 2014 and 2019.

AFP Indian National Congress (INC) Party leader Rahul Gandhi (2R) and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav (C) gesture as they arrive to attend an election rally of Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) on the outskirts of Varanasi on May 28, 2024, during country's ongoing general electionAFP

A jolt to the powerful BJP

Mr. Modi’s uninterrupted decade-long leadership has underlined India’s commitment to what some political scientists refer to as the one-party system.

This has five key traits: a charismatic leader, unrivaled control over resources and communication, unmatched organisational machinery, and an opposition in disarray. A one-party system is also characterized by shrinking freedoms.

Mr Modi’s BJP is not the first party to dominate Indian politics. After independence, the Congress ruled without a break for many years. With a range of parties battling for power, Tuesday’s outcome has given India what many people believe is “normal politics.”

Getty Images N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of India's Andhra Pradesh state speaks during a public rally of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Krishna district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, on April 8, 2019. - India is holding a general election to be held over nearly six weeks starting on April 11, when hundreds of millions of voters will cast ballots in the world's biggest democracy.Getty Images

A resurgent opposition

The results will energise the much- criticised Congress- led opposition.

In February, the diverse coalition known as INDIA, short for Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, faced turmoil when one of its key leaders, Nitish Kumar, exited- only to later rejoin the BJP.

However, under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, the opposition ran a spirited campaign and narrowed the gap despite having a biased media and having fewer resources.

There is still more hope for them in the future. The BJP has previously lost to regional parties and holds roughly a third of India’s 4, 000 or so state assembly seats. Over the next 14 months, five states are set for elections- all could be keenly contested.

With contests in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Haryana this year, the BJP could face substantial competition. Delhi’s upcoming election may pose challenges, while Bihar in October presents a regional hurdle.

Getty Images P supporters during an election rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Dwarka for the BJP Lok Sabha candidates, on May 22, 2024 in New Delhi, India. PGetty Images

What might a potential third term for Mr. Modi mean then?

More work and some healing are required in India.

The economy, fueled by government spending, is on the upswing. Yet inequality is rising. The poor and middle class will need more money to spend more, and private investment and consumption must increase.

If there are n’t enough jobs, that wo n’t happen. Young voters are likely to deviate from the BJP in a nation filled with ambition and frustration because about two-fifths of India’s billion-plus citizens are under 25.

Mr Modi has drawn criticism for marginalising Muslims, India’s largest minority, who have borne the brunt of violence. Leading opposition figures are currently serving prison sentences for what they claim are trumped-up charges. His government is accused of stifling dissent.

However, many leaders ‘ third terms have frequently turned out to be difficult because unanticipated and unpredictable events have stifled their plans.