India: After election defeat: Modi tries to form government

This is the biggest political setback for the head of a polarized government since he became prime minister in 2014. Will this save India's democracy?

After his party's much worse performance in India's parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi can expect support from his former allies in forming a government. After discussions at Modi's residence in New Delhi on Wednesday, Hindu nationalists at Platform X announced that coalition partners had previously agreed to the 73-year-old to lead the governing coalition. Representatives of the regional Janata Dal Party confirmed this and told Business Today that a government under Modi would be formed soon. Despite no clear announcements from other coalition partners initially, the polarizing and increasingly autocratic Modi is expected to soon begin a third consecutive term – as his country's second prime minister after Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Hindu nationalist BJP lost its absolute majority in the lower house for the first time in ten years, but remains the strongest force. He won 240 of the total 543 seats in parliament, as announced by the election commission. With its previous coalition partners – small regional parties – the BJP would have at least 292 seats allowing for government formation, as local media evaluations show.

Commentator: Society wants a course adjustment

However, a number of political commentators pointed out that the public had sent a clear message to New Delhi with their votes: they wanted a course adjustment. “The BJP's seemingly invincible politics of religious polarization remains in check,” wrote Sudheendra Kulkarni. “Indian democracy can breathe a sigh of relief. The fundamental values ​​of the constitution, which have come under heavy pressure over the last ten years, are now well protected.”

During the election campaign, the BJP relied primarily on the cult of personality around Modi as a strong, godlike leader. This propagates a Hindu nationalist agenda that states that India should be a country only for the Hindu majority, who make up 80 percent of the population. As a result, around 200 million Muslims and other religious minorities are increasingly treated like second-class citizens. With 1.4 billion people, India is the most populous country in the world.

Modi also concentrates power in his office and the opposition accuses him of using state institutions to silence them. Several politicians were detained on corruption charges during the election campaign. At the same time, most of the media took the government's stance. Criticism also soared from the head of government.

“People finally want to work”

Under Modi's government, the subcontinent has also become the fifth largest economic power in the world. However, growth is uneven and only a small portion benefits. High levels of unemployment and inflation are problems repeatedly raised by the opposition. According to official figures, more than half of the population – around 800 million – only make ends meet with social assistance. They will do just that now, wrote the “Hindustan Times”. They finally want to work.

During the election campaign, Modi set a high bar for success: he wanted to significantly expand his coalition's previous majority – to more than 400 seats. But he actually lost his seat significantly. But the opposition made surprising gains. According to local media, their alliance has 234 seats and is also meeting for consultations on Wednesday.

At the same time, Modi has received congratulations from various parts of the world: from China, with which India has very tense relations due to border conflicts, it has been said that relations between the countries are in the interests of both sides and contribute to border conflicts. towards peace and development in the region. Italian President Giorgia Meloni emphasized that he wanted to work more closely with him. Western countries are increasingly seeking closer ties with India in the face of an increasingly aggressive China.

Ambrose Fernandez

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