Modi 3.0: Coalition is back as BJP-led NDA returns for historic 3rd term

Modi, narendra modi, BJP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets supporters as he arrives at the BJP headquarters, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Addressing the celebrating crowd, he said: “After 1962, for the first time a government has won the mandate for a third consecutive term”

The Indian electorate on Tuesday delivered to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies enough seats to lead a third successive government at the Centre, a first for any party or coalition since 1962. But with the party falling 30-odd seats short of the majority mark of 272, it also reminded the BJP, which may stake claim to form the government on Wednesday, of the virtues of following the coalition dharma.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was set to win 292 seats while the Congress-led INDIA bloc was at 232 at the time of filing of this report. The Congress, in its best performance since 2014, almost doubled its seats to a hundred. After 10 years, it now has the numbers for its leader in the Lok Sabha to be given the Leader of the Opposition status, which could enable it, along with its allies, to be a more effective Opposition. The Union Cabinet will meet at 11.30 am on Wednesday to deliberate on the next course.

The BJP looked set to win 240 seats with 211 wins and 29 leads at the time of going to press, a dent of 63 seats from the 303 it won five years ago, and a far cry from the slogan of “abki baar 400 paar”. It not only suffered reverses in the northern states of Rajasthan, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, but also in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Haryana. Assembly polls are scheduled to take place in the last three states in November.

Senior Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at party headquarters in New Delhi, after INDIA bloc's strong showing in Lok Sabha polls

Senior Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at party headquarters in New Delhi, after INDIA bloc’s strong showing in Lok Sabha polls


In UP, the BJP lost the Faizabad seat in the Ayodhya district to the Samajwadi Party (SP), a sign that the consecration of the idol at the Ram temple had diminishing electoral returns and that its support base among the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) had somewhat eroded. The SP jolted the BJP in UP to emerge the biggest player amid the continuing decline of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which couldn’t win any seat, while the Congress witnessed a revival in the state.

For the BJP, its win in Odisha — where it was set to bag an unprecedented 19 LS seats and 78 Assembly seats — and improved performance in Telangana helped compensate for its losses elsewhere in the country. It also secured its first win ever in Kerala and maintained its hold in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat. But as PM Narendra Modi acknowledged in his victory speech at the BJP’s national headquarters in the evening, the contribution to the NDA’s final tally of its allies in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh was key to it crossing the halfway mark.

The PM spoke of the contribution to the NDA of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu, who is set to be the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh with his party winning the Assembly polls held in the state simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections. Modi said his government at the Centre would do its utmost for the betterment of the two states, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.

The return to a coalition era — which continued from 1989 to 2014 —after a hiatus of 10 years will require changes to the BJP’s style of functioning as it again occupies the treasury benches. The party had discontinued holding steering committee meetings with its allies within a couple of years of its 2014 win, and some of its most loyal allies, such as the Shiromani Akali Dal and Shiv Sena, exited the NDA in recent years. The TDP, under Naidu, had also severed ties with the NDA in 2018. It could also mean that the BJP might need to put on the backburner its agenda to implement a Uniform Civil Code and ‘One Nation One Election’.

But not just Kumar and Naidu, Tamil Nadu CM and DMK chief MK Stalin, and his West Bengal counterpart Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee led their parties to comprehensive wins in their respective states, and have emerged stronger as did SP chief Akhilesh Yadav in UP, whose party is now the third largest in the Lok Sabha. However, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik’s ambition to become the longest serving chief minister lay in tatters as his party was voted out of power, while Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which won a few seats in Punjab, could face an existential crisis.

In his address at the BJP headquarters, the PM said his government will celebrate the 75th year of the adoption of the Constitution with fanfare, and stressed that the NDA government led by him will work in a spirit of cooperation with all states irrespective of which party rules them. Modi highlighted the welfare schemes of the last ten years of his government. During the election campaign, the Opposition had alleged that the BJP, if it were to get a brute majority, might amend the Constitution.

The election was fought, especially in northern India, amid a climate of rising cost of living and lack of jobs. The PM said his government was committed to walk the path of “green industrialisation” in its third term and reiterated his resolve to root out corruption. He said it was “Modi’s guarantee” that his government will scale greater heights of taking historic decisions in its third term.

The Congress leadership, including Rahul Gandhi, said the result was a victory of the country’s Constitution.

First Published: Jun 04 2024 | 11:51 PM IST

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