Aftermath of Indian Election results 2019

India’s Bharatiya Janata Party swept the opposition aside to win a second term in the recent national elections. . Will the sweeping mandate motivate the ruling party to rise above ideological differences and provide a more inclusive form of governance?

Background 

India has hundreds of political parties registered (PDF) with the election commission, and of these seven are registered as national parties. The Indian National Congress and its rival the Bharatiya Janata Party are the largest among them. 

The Indian national congress was formed in 1885 and dominated the national movement for ending British rule. The party is currently led by Sonia Gandhi, the wife of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. 

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was formed in 1980 from the remnants of previous Hindu political organizations. As of 2018, it is the country's largest political party in terms of representation in the national parliament and state assemblies, and it is the world's largest party in terms of primary membership

Analysis

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi clinched a second term on May 23. The Elections were held from April 11 in the world's largest democracy across seven phases over six weeks to choose India's next government.

Exit polls had predicted a win for Mr Modi, suggesting that the BJP would do even better in the 2019 elections than in 2014. Ahead of the counting, around two dozen opposition parties complained about alleged manipulation of the EVMs, a charge dismissed by the Election Commission. The voting machine controversy is an indication of how acrimonious the election campaign has been and the deep distrust that exist between the opposition and ruling parties.

 The BJP successfully pitched its political campaign on the popularity of PM Modi and the issue of national security, following the outbreak of hostilities with Pakistan over the killing of 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir in April. Hindu nationalism also played an important part in the elections. Alongside nationalism, the BJP’s victory was also fuelled by a relentless, data-driven and highly disciplined style of campaigning. The ruling party spent more than 260m rupees (£2.9m) on advertisements on Facebook, YouTube, Google and Instagram, compared with 35m rupees by Congress. A survey released by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies found that nearly one-third of people who voted for the BJP did so in support of Modi, rather than the party or their local candidate. 

 “There is no match for Modi among the opposition parties,” said Rahul Verma, a fellow at the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research. “He’s running at nearly an all-time high popularity. He’s charismatic, and people still repose faith in him despite not being very happy with the economic side of the government’s performance.” 

Congress has been dependent on the Nehru-Gandhi family, there is likely to be debate over whether the party needs to rethink dynastic politics and allow other political leaders to rise. Of the 421 seats the Congress contested in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, it lost 369. 

 A day after the Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi, claimed a landslide election victory, some in the congregation were anxious about whether this new country had a place for them. “These days, it isn’t safe for us here any more,” said Haji Shezhad Khan, the chairman of a local Muslim activist group. For many Indian Muslims Modi’s emphatic re-election has been an isolating experience. In the states like Assam and West Bengal with a significant Muslim population where BJP struggled to make inroads, the party won in double digits, a historic mandate.The National Register of Citizens (NRC), which the party introduced in Assam to throw out infiltrators, a reference to a sizeable population of Bengali Muslims, has been effective for the party.

During his first term, PM Modi simplified a byzantine tax system, cracked down on corruption and overhauled India’s corporate bankruptcy system. After it became clear that PM Modi’s government was returning to power, India’s stock market shot up 2 percent, to a record high.

Assessment 

Our assessment is that extremists are likely to feel emboldened by PM Modi’s election win. It can be noted sectarian prejudice has always existed in India but the room for giving it homicidal expression has expanded exponentially. At the same time, divisive caste politics that dominated India has reduced which we feel charmed the voters. 

We also feel that the minority voters were motivated by constituency level politics and not the narrative of fear created by anti – Muslim rhetoric and incidents. Polling in 2017 revealed that support for autocratic rule by a “strong leader” was higher in India (55%) than in any other country, including Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

We feel that the opposition could not provide a Prime Ministerial candidate who could relate to ideologies and patriotism of a commoner, while being obsessed over the flaws of the ruling party. The principal opposition party is being associated as one with old school elitist politics, corruption and a perceived inability to bring change to India. We believe that ideological battles cannot be fought through policies. 

We feel that various national and international data is indicative of the progressive work done by the Government in the last five years. It can be noted that India has moved 30 notches up in 2018 by positioning itself in the top 100 countries in the ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’.  There has been significant momentum to build self-reliance in defence and technology through ‘Make in India campaign’. We also feel that the technology and startup sectors are anticipating the speedy implementation of policies that will boost the growth of ‘Digital India’

 

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