Modi’s third win a chance to restore India as a leading democracy

Narendra Modi has joined India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru in winning a record third term of office and, if his victory was less of a landslide than many predicted, the alarmist policies he promulgated in office and enunciated during the campaign are now a definite cause for international concern.

Both popular and populist, he led his party to win an astounding 303 seats in India’s 543-seat Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, in 2019. But, this time out, his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) only managed 238 seats, effectively losing the single-party majority enjoyed since Modi was elected prime minister in 2014. For the first time he will have to share power with coalition partners.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is greeted by supporters as he arrives at his party’s headquarters in New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is greeted by supporters as he arrives at his party’s headquarters in New Delhi.Credit: AP

That said, the results were not uniform. About 970 million people, or more than 10 per cent of the world’s population, were eligible to vote. Sixty-six per cent of those did, helping the BJP to win its first-ever seat in the left-leaning state of Kerala in the south.

Curiously, however, Modi’s party performed unevenly across the Hindi belt and suffered perhaps its biggest loss in Uttar Pradesh, where the prime minister inaugurated a Hindu temple in the city of Ayodhya recently, cementing his Hindu-nationalist legacy.

Modi was once banned from entering the US and Britain for his association with sectarian violence, but the West has sidestepped such human rights concerns since then to cultivate a bulwark against Chinese assertion.


The BJP has claimed proudly that, under Modi, India had finally achieved its rightful global place after the historical subjugation of the country and its majority Hindu faith, first by the Muslim Mughal empire and then by British colonialism.

During the six-week election campaign, Modi initially stood on his record, but he quickly swerved from economic management to sectarianism. He focused on perpetuating the BJP’s agenda of Hindutva or Hindu, targeting India’s 200 million Muslims, comprising about 15 per cent of the country’s population, calling them infiltrators or terrorists.

He and his ally, federal home minister Amit Shah, reportedly pledged to take India to war with neighbouring nuclear rival Pakistan over Kashmir.

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