WhatsApp Logo Subscribe
For News Alert


Modi's myth broken, yet in power

By Naveed Aman Khan

June 11, 2024 09:45 PM

Twitter Share Facebook Share WhatsApp Share

In 2024, Indian 'Secularism' has defeated Narendra Modi's 'Hindutwa'. For Modi, 2024 is not 2004. Yet in power for the third term, Modi's myth is broken. For the third consecutive time, the BJP has emerged, as the country’s single-largest party in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s parliament. But as India’s election authorities counted 640 million votes within a day after a six-week-long election, the BJP fell well short of its performances from 2014 and 2019.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has lost its national majority after suffering major losses in key states, marking a dramatic shift in the political landscape it has dominated for the past decade.

By contrast, the opposition INDIA alliance, led by the Congress party, won 232 seats, significantly. Released on June 1 after the final phase of India’s election cycle, it was said that the BJP would outdo its 2019 tally of 303 seats. Unlike both those last elections, when the BJP won clear majorities on its own in a house of 543 seats, it ended up with 240 seats this time around. The halfway mark is 272 seats. India will likely have an NDA government, where the BJP does not have a majority on their own, and coalition politics will come into real play. Modi claimed, in his first comments after the results were declared, "victory for his NDA coalition".

Modi and his party have formed India’s government – but dependent on a clutch of allies whose support they needed to cross the 272-seat mark. The BJP with its allies, in a coalition known as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has won 293 seats. The electoral verdict has raised questions about the BJP’s strategy. As India’s long-drawn-out election campaign played out, Modi, India’s charismatic and polarising prime minister, had increasingly turned to fearmongering over an alleged plot by the opposition to hand over the nation’s resources to Muslims, at the cost of its majority Hindus. Meanwhile, the opposition had tried to corner Modi on his government’s economic track record. While the country is the world’s fastest-growing major economy, high inflation and unemployment were key concerns for the common man.

The BJP’s campaign slogan, “Abki baar, 400 paar” (This time, more than 400), set a target of 400 seats for its alliance, and 370 seats for the BJP itself. That pitch carried a tone of overconfidence. The Indian public were dealing with the lived realities of soaring prices, joblessness and income inequality so wide that it is now worse than during British colonial rule. Today, Modi has lost his face. He is not that ‘undefeated person’ and his invincible aura is not there anymore. In some ways, the election verdict carries echoes of 2004, when another incumbent BJP government under the then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was widely expected to win a landslide mandate.  Instead, the Congress marginally edged the BJP in wins and formed the government with its allies. But 2024 is not 2004.

Despite the setbacks, the BJP is still, by far, the largest party in parliament, and has formed the government along with its NDA allies. Congress, the largest opposition party, won 99 seats, less than half of the tally of the BJP. Yet multiple odds all the political opponents of Modi, put together, could not win as many seats as the BJP alone.

The TDP won 16 seats and the JDU 12. Both the parties have also previously been in alliance with the Congress party. Still, two regional parties now hold the key to the office of the prime minister of India: Janata Dal-United, led by Nitish Kumar in the state of Bihar, and the Telugu Desam Party, led by Chandrababu Naidu in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh, India’s biggest state and a key determinant of who rules nationally, the Hindu-nationalist party lost in the Faizabad parliamentary district, home to the controversial Ram Temple, built on the ruins of the 16th-century Babri Masjid. Modi had consecrated the temple in January.

While the BJP has made noticeable inroads in southern India – especially Kerala, where it won its first-ever Lok Sabha seat – its overall numbers were hit by major losses in the central Hindi-speaking states, which it had comfortably won in the last election.

This time, Rahul Gandhi contested from neighbouring Rae Bareli constituency and won the seat by a margin more than twice the size by which Modi won his seat, Varanasi, also in Uttar Pradesh. The consecration of the Ram Temple was at the forefront of the BJP’s campaign to mobilise Hindu voters. The party also lost the key seat of Amethi, where federal Minister Smriti Irani is staring at defeat. Irani had pulled off a spectacular win over Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Gandhi family, by 55,000 votes in 2019.

Overall, the BJP won just 33 seats out of Uttar Pradesh’s 80, a significant drop from the 62 it won in 2019 and its tally of 71 from 2014. The regional Samajwadi Party, a part of the opposition INDIA alliance, won 37 seats, while the Congress won six others. Along with Maharashtra, three other states that have been epicentres of India’s agrarian crisis, with major farm protests, also saw losses for the BJP compared with 2019: Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab. The BJP governs the states of Haryana and Rajasthan. The economically backward castes and classes are hugely upset with Modi, and his divisive politics have not borne any fruits in their kitchen.

Under brute majority, institutions have collapsed in India under the BJP. The power system was absolutely centralised at the top, and India needs these kinds of coalition-based governments for its democracy to survive. Over the past decade under a majority BJP government, India has slid on several democratic indices amid accusations of a crackdown on dissent, and political opposition. Modi did not address any news conferences in the last decade as a prime minister.

Before the polls, undoubtedly, the BJP couldn't read the changed mood of the masses and the ground realities. Before the polls, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi addressed the miseries of the common deserted Indians across the country. Both Rahul and Priyanka reached every corner of India. Contrary to Modi the Congress leadership focused on peace, prosperity and political harmony. 

Naveed Aman Khan

Read Naveed Aman Khan on

The writer is editor, book ambassador, geo political scientist and author of several books on media and international affairs based in Islamabad. He can be reached at [email protected] and X@AmanNaveed11

Most Read

  1. FJMU celebrates approval of four gynecology sub-specialties FJMU celebrates approval of four gynecology sub-specialties
  2. Bangladesh death toll reaches 105 as govt struggle to quell urest Bangladesh death toll reaches 105 as govt struggle to quell urest
  3. Punjab Police officers on CPEC training scuffle at China airport Punjab Police officers on CPEC training scuffle at China airport
  4. ‘Officially a mom-in-law’: Iffat Omar announces daughter’s engagement ‘Officially a mom-in-law’: Iffat Omar announces daughter’s engagement
  5. University of Karachi's Professor Zakaria Sajid passes away University of Karachi's Professor Zakaria Sajid passes away
  6. Lahore tram project gets Maryam Nawaz's approval Lahore tram project gets Maryam Nawaz's approval