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The world’s largest democracy chastises a leader

The political earthquake that's emerged from Lok Sabha 2024 is a win for a mature democracy that will keep its representatives honest.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Indian Election 2024 was expected to be a David-Goliath battle, with Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the Goliath expected to trample all over the Congress’ David.

The counting of 660 million votes started at 8am and it was expected to be all done and dusted in a couple of hours, with BJP romping home.

But in what many are calling a political earthquake, 12 hours later BJP was still short in its own right to form government, having secured 240 seats in a parliament with 543 seats. It now looks like BJP will have to form a coalition with other parties to get it the additional 30 plus seats.

voters at 2024 lok sabha
Feet-on-the-ground type of politicking and local issues played a significant role this election (Source: Election Commission of India)

It’s a result which no one saw coming. In fact, the Indian stock market which had a euphoric ride a day before on an expected Modi victory, rose by three percent, and then came crashing down by six percent as the day progressed, and the Modi-led BJP crawled rather than sprinted across the winning line.

The Indian voters made it all very exciting – it was a true testament to the democratic traditions of India. We talk about a world of fake news and the effects of deep fakes – yet in this election which had over 650 million votes, it was the good old-fashioned feet-on-the-ground type of politicking and local issues at work.

Modi 3.0

The BJP in all likelihood will form government, as it is the party with the most number of seats won, and should Narendra Modi be able to prove his majority, he will become PM for the third time. But this time round, he will need a different style of governance.

Modi 3.0 will need to be a more centralist prime minister, and he will have to be a more consultative PM.

Lok sabha 2024
Modi 3.0 will need to be a more consultative PM. (Source: Election Commission of India)

Both could be hard on him as he has been a champion of pro-Hinduism policies at the cost of other minorities. Equally, as Chief Minister of Gujarat and as PM over two previous terms, he has led a majority government and ruled in his own right, so being centrist or consultative will be a challenge.

But we also need to be mindful that though Brand Modi has been damaged, Modi is still a hugely popular leader and his party the BJP is a very disciplined, well organised, cadre-based political party. They have won 240 seats to the 100 seats won by the next largest party, the Congress, so while BJP is wounded, it is by no means out.

What went wrong?

The challenges of incumbency were more significant than anticipated. After a decade in power, Modi and the BJP faced an electorate where many, predictably, were ready for a change and reluctant to support them again.

Then, Modi led a campaign which was largely built on communal and negative politics. Rather than point out India’s GDP growth achievement of eight percent, the infrastructure build up in the country, or how well India is perceived internationally, Modi played the race card more often than required. That worked against him.

Young voters 2024 Indian election
The BJP’s 2024 campaign didn’t go down so well amongst young voters. (Source: Election Commission of India

The underdog status for Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi also seemed to have worked. With his own tactics of reaching out, he slowly built up his own consensus.

Finally, issues such as unemployment amongst the youth, high prices due to inflation, and local politics and issues also played a significant role in the Indian Election 2024.

Going forward

It’ll hopefully be a time of healing and creating more opportunities for all, especially certain sections of the minority who have been feeling vulnerable in recent years.

The Indian economy is on the upswing, but inequality is rising. Private investment needs to increase and more opportunities for the middle class have to be created.

voting in Lok Sabha 2024
The Indian election 2024 is a win for mature democracy. (Source: Election Commission of India)

My major takeaway from Indian Election 2024 is the admiration of how a mature democracy can work, where 660 million people cast their vote, expressed their feelings at the ballot box, chastised a leader, and maybe even brought about a change in governance if not government.

A seamless change in style of governance, achieved through the ballot – that’s a win for democracy.

READ ALSO: India votes 2024: Four possible outcomes

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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