Your search keywords:

A wake-up call for the BJP

A wake-up call for the BJP

The 2024 Indian general elections have concluded with unexpected results, prompting a re-evaluation of the political landscape. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), secured a majority in parliament, marking Narendra Modi’s third term as Prime Minister. However, the BJP did not achieve a majority on its own, revealing a shift in voter sentiment.

In 2014, the BJP won 282 seats, and in 2019, it increased its tally to 303 seats, both times securing a clear majority on its own. However, in 2024, the BJP’s seat count dropped to 240, falling short of the 272 seats needed for a majority, which necessitated reliance on its allies within the NDA to form the government.

Since 2014, the BJP has dominated Indian politics, winning commanding majorities in the 2014 and 2019 elections under Modi’s leadership. This period saw significant policies and reforms aimed at economic growth, national security and cultural resurgence. However, the 2024 election results reveal a more complex narrative.

Public perception of BJP leadership, especially Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, significantly influenced the 2024 results. Critics have often pointed to their approach toward the opposition, characterized by a lack of tolerance for dissent, suppression and the use of pressure tactics. Many voters expressed dissatisfaction with this attitude, feeling it undermined the democratic fabric of the country. The electorate seemed eager to curb this perceived authoritarian streak, signaling a desire for a more inclusive and accommodative leadership style.

The Muslim community notably voiced its discontent, feeling marginalized and oppressed under BJP’s rule. High-profile projects like the Ram Mandir construction and consecration only deepened these concerns, further alienating this significant voter base. Even in the Ram Mandir area, the BJP didn’t win.

Modi’s government faced criticism for its SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) policy, which some analysts believe neglected regional cooperation and damaged relationships with neighboring countries, contrary to its ‘neighborhood first’ policy. This aspect may have also contributed to the dip in voter support, as citizens recognized the importance of strong regional ties for national stability and growth.

The decrease in voter support for the BJP in 2024 should be a wake-up call for the party. Despite Modi being hailed as one of India’s most impactful leaders since Jawaharlal Nehru, and his commendable performance on the global stage, the electorate’s diminishing enthusiasm suggests a need for introspection. The Indian populace seems to be advocating for a diversification in leadership to prevent the stagnation of Modi’s image and to ensure a dynamic governance model.

The current political landscape reveals a fragile NDA, with allies like Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu failing to inspire confidence due to their history of shifting alliances. This uncertainty paves the way for potential shifts in power, with the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) emerging as a possible alternative. The INDIA alliance, comprising several opposition parties, won 210 seats in the 2024 elections. While still behind the NDA, their growing influence suggests they could be a formidable contender in the near future if power dynamics change. However, the specter of a midterm election also looms large, which could have detrimental effects on India’s economy and its standing on the global stage.

Despite these challenges, ministers like Nirmala Sitharaman and S Jaishankar have demonstrated exceptional competence. Sitharaman’s economic policies have strengthened India’s financial position, while Jaishankar’s diplomatic efforts have bolstered India’s global image. Retaining them in their respective ministries is crucial for maintaining continuity and progress in these areas.

The coming days are fraught with challenges for India. Internal power struggles, developmental hurdles, economic uncertainties, and maintaining global and regional presence will test the resilience of Modi’s government. The electorate’s message is clear: The BJP must adapt, evolve, and embrace a more inclusive and democratic approach to governance. Only then can Modi hope to lead India effectively through the complexities of contemporary geopolitics and domestic affairs.

As India stands at a crossroads, the hope is that Modi and his government will heed these lessons, striving for a more inclusive, democratic and progressive India. The nation's future hinges on their response to this electoral wake-up call.

The author, a member of the Supreme Court Bar, has been practicing corporate law for around three decades