Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi displays a letter from the President of India Draupadi Murmu inviting him to form the next central government, outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, India, Friday, June 7, 2024

Narendra Modi will be sworn in this Sunday (9) as Prime Minister of India for a historic third term, in a ceremony marked by the presence of leaders from neighboring countries, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and the Maldives. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (PBJ) victory in the world’s biggest general elections, with 640 million votes, was not as impressive as expected, resulting in significant dependence on allies to maintain a majority in parliament.

The PBJ’s less significant victory is seen by many as a sign of course correction. People seem to have chosen an opposition, not a government, when voting this time. The word on the streets and in offices is that India really needed this. Despite the Modi government’s economic success, its growing authoritarianism, especially against Muslims. Muslim activists celebrated the result, expressing hope that the PBJ’s mandate losses will serve as a limit to its arrogance.

Compared to 303 seats in 2019, the BJP won 240 seats, short of the required majority of 272 in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament, which has 543 seats. With the support of its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (ADN), the PBJ won 293 seats. The INDIA opposition alliance, led by Rahul Gandhi’s Indian National Congress, won 232 seats, with the Congress alone getting 99, a significant increase compared to 2019.

Formation of the new government

Around 30 future ministers will also take the oath, including deputies from the Telugu Desam Party (PTD), the PBJ’s biggest ally, and the Janata Dal (United), who have already made tough demands on the BJP, such as prominent cabinet positions and a program of common governance. There are two parties that say they have a strong Muslim support base, although there is no representation of these populations in the Lok Sabha. Reports indicate that the most powerful ministries – Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Defense – will remain under PBJ control.

Janata Dal MP Lalan Singh commented on the cabinet configuration: “Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar have expressed their confidence in me and I will try to live up to their expectations. We do not demand any ministry, it is the prime minister’s right to choose [ministros].”

The BJP insists that the third term will be peaceful. “These are unfounded and misguided fears,” said Zafar Islam, PBJ national spokesman. “Everyone in the NDA has confidence in Prime Minister Modi’s leadership.”

Challenges ahead

Despite foreign policy achievements, Modi faces significant challenges, especially with China, following the 2020 border clash. Relations with Canada have also deteriorated following accusations of Indian involvement in a plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist.

Unemployment was a central issue during the election campaign. India’s unemployment rate rose to 8.1% in April, reflecting discontent over a lack of jobs and inflation. Congress accused the PBJ government of not doing enough to create job opportunities.

Analysts suggest that dependence on allies could serve as a check on Modi, preventing him from governing unilaterally as in previous terms. However, they point out that it would be naive to think that the election resolved the hate crisis in Indian society.

Modi, who will become only the second Indian leader to return to power after a third consecutive election, faces an uncertain future. Collaboration with allies will be essential to the stability of your government and to meeting the internal and external challenges facing India.


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