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Indian Elections 2024: A cause for optimism

The view from Australia: Across both sides of the divide, the mood is one of reflection, with the heightened passions of previous months giving way to a more contemplative and measured discourse

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

BARRY O’FARRELL, Australia’s former High Commissioner to India

In June last year, my final official call as High Commissioner to India was to meet with the President of the Indian National Congress, Shri Mapanna Mallikarjun Kharge. Notwithstanding expectations of a return of the Modi BJP Government.

Modi Government 3.0
Barry O Farrell (Source: Supplied)

I was seeking reassurance that the trajectory of the Australia-India relationship would continue if a Congress-led government eventuated. I left the meeting satisfied on that point, if not convinced about the I.N.D.I.A grouping’s electoral prospects.

One of the few advantages of having spent the majority of my NSW parliamentary career in Opposition was the ample time I had to think deeply about voters and elections.

For the last few months, when asked about the likely outcome by friends, business leaders and others, while pointing to confidence of published polls, I always left open the possibility of an upset.

This was based on the habit of democratic systems to produce surprising results. While the genius of our shared electoral systems is that it’s voters who decide outcomes, they also have the habit of proving polls wrong, as demonstrated by Trump’s victory in 2016 and ScoMo’s in 2019.

This year’s result is cause for optimism and hope. It again demonstrated India’s commitment to democracy and it offers the hope for the emergence of a strong Opposition. And that, as I learned as an MP, always delivers better government.

 

DARSHAK MEHTA, Entrepreneur and philanthropist

Everyone gets their comeuppance in life.

Even people who think they are non-biological or the chosen ones.

Modi Government 3.0
Darshak Mehta (Source: Supplied)

The Indian Elections 2024 has galvanized me from a state of funk and utter despair at the naked hate, bigotry and communalism on display, to a more optimistic person with greater faith in India’s masses to ultimately get it right.

The toxic polarisation of Indian society can now be addressed, if not redressed.

The Prime Minister might even deign fit to answer questions in Parliament – something that was beneath his dignity for a decade.

Not holding my breath for his first ever press conference, though!

Now, India can truly resume its development as an inclusive society with a lot more checks and balances, REAL rule of the law, an end of bulldozer and raid raj etc.

There I go dreaming again…

A final thought – the chances of this NDA Coalition surviving a full term are two: none and Buckley’s.

DIPEN RUGHANI, Founder and head of the Sydney-based Newland Global Group, a corporate advisory firm

A marathon seven-week election with over 640 million people voting, setting a world record.

Dipen Rughani (Source: Supplied)

The Indian election results were surprising to say the least, defying huge exit poll predictions. It was fascinating to note that the winning NDA coalition was dissected and scrutinised, whilst the losing INDI Alliance celebrated. An interesting paradox, on how ten years of BJP-led NDA rule had crushed the Opposition’s hope of any comeback, and any improvement on the past results by the losing alliance seems like a major win.

Regardless of the result, I believe the India story will remain bullish, because of its strong macroeconomic fundamentals that would support long-term growth. We might see a greater shift towards a welfare-oriented approach with the NDA coalition partners, new political compulsions and power equations.

The Indian Elections 2024 highlighted the resurgence of regional parties, the importance of localised issues, economic issues such as job creation and inflation.

New Parliament dynamics will see the revival of the Opposition and the coalition power-play. The new government’s skills in negotiation, power sharing, consultative and calculated approaches will dictate policy stability and certainty.

I believe Australia-India bilateral relations are now enduring and resilient to electoral changes and am hopeful of the promise of signing a full-fledged bilateral trade agreement the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) by the end of the year. What’s at play is how the BJP-led NDA coalition delivers on managing economic reforms and builds good governance and effective leadership through embedded grassroots social engineering.

A starting point will be, reflecting on what went wrong.

JAY SHAH, President, Overseas Friends of BJP; Director, Indian Australian Diaspora Foundation

Jay Shah (Source: Supplied)

In the 2024 General Elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has again secured a decisive mandate, although short of expectations. He is poised to serve his third consecutive term and will be India’s longest-serving head of government (state /centre). This achievement, rare in large democracies, reflects public trust in Modi’s development and reform initiatives. Overcoming unique challenges like modern day media scrutiny of hundreds of news channels, digital media and anti-incumbency, Modi is only the second Indian PM to win three terms. This victory contrasts sharply with the previous government whose corruption scandals that decimated Congress’s seat count to just 44. M

Despite falling slightly short of expectations, PM Modi remains immensely popular, with the BJP the sole party capable of ensuring stable government. The BJP’s lowest tally in three terms surpasses Congress’s combined seats over the same period. Unlike INDI Alliance, the NDA partners share a unified vision for reform and development, minimizing internal competition.

This outcome of the Indian Elections 2024 also underscores the Western media’s ignorance of Indian democracy as they continually casted baseless doubts, prompting questions about a potential apology to India’s 1.4 billion citizens.

KHUSHAAL VYAS, Lawyer, Freelance Journalist

The unexpected results of the Indian Elections 2024 are something that ought to give Indians from across the political spectrum (and indeed the wider democratic world) cause for celebration. Prime

Khushaal Vyas (Source: Supplied)

Minister Narendra Modi swept to power in 2014 and whilst many celebrated his unprecedented electoral success, it also saw a virtually non-existent opposition at the federal level for the past decade. Whether one supports PM Modi or not, it must be conceded that a strong opposition provides strength to the foundation of India’s proud democratic tradition. Indeed, in an election where there has been troubling rhetoric against minorities, brazen support of political candidates by mainstream media (an issue also prevalent in Western democracies including Australia) and controversies around the arrest of opponents and freezing of opposition finances, this election had many feeling concerned about the future of India’s democracy. Wherever one stands, I firmly believe that checks and balances on power are vital for the success of any democracy. Ultimately, this election has provided PM Modi with a historic third term whilst also ensuring an institutional check on that power. That is an outcome that I feel all Indians of all political persuasions can celebrate; a celebration of the world’s largest democracy.

ED ROY, Journalist and writer

What a cracker of an election in India. All that money. All that help from institutions meant to stay independent. All that toadying by media barons. All that xenophobia and targeting of communities. All that comes down to this: Democracy.

Sure, it’s not perfect. But it’s a darn sight better than the other options.

Read more: The world’s largest democracy chastises a leader

Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

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