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Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | MODI 3.0, DIMINISHED

The shift in voter preference can be gauged from the fact that BJP lost Faizabad, Ayodhya's twin city where Modi in January had presided over a grand consecration of the Ram Temple that was expected to be a foolfproof vote-winner.
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 16:04 IST
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 16:04 IST

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India's voters dragged Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP well below the majority mark and handed the kingmakers' role to his allies in the NDA, Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu, returning the country to coalition government after a decade dominated by a single party.

The verdict after the Lok Sabha elections, coming on the heels of exit polls that predicted a landslide, punctured stock markets and the rupee as investors fretted over the prospect of an unstable government at the mercy of capricious allies. Modi, known for his take-no-prisoners tactics, will now have to strike an unfamiliar conciliatory approach to keep two former foes close to him.

The win gives Modi a crack at a third term, equalling a record held by Jawaharlal Nehru, a prime minister the BJP loves to hate, and he posted on social media platform X that his party would 'continue the good work done in the last decade to keep fulfilling the aspirations of people'.

But Congress, which finished with its best performance since 2014 to emerge as the single largest party in the opposition bloc, was not shy of exploring possibilities in the hung house.

"We don't have an answer to that question today, we will respond tomorrow after speaking to our I.N.D.I.A partners," Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on being asked if the Opposition would try to cobble together an alternative government.

Both the BJP and Congress reached out to Naidu, who seems all set to be sworn in as the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister. Congress general secretary general secretary Jairam Ramesh even wheeled out an earlier commitment offering to grant ‘special category status’ to Andhra Pradesh as mentioned in the party manifesto for 2024 polls.

Both Naidu and Nitish had crawled back to the NDA just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

But the real story of this election played out in Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. The state that propelled BJP and Modi to power in 2014 and 2019 proved to be the biggest hurdle in Modi's third home run. Ironically, when the elections in UP were contested to 'Save Ambedkar’s Constitution', it was UP ke ladke Rahul and Akhilesh, and not the Dalit pride party BSP, that inflicted huge damage. The UP shock may also have weakened the hand of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, seen as a potential future successor to Modi.

The shift in voter preference can be gauged from the fact that BJP lost Faizabad, Ayodhya's twin city where Modi in January had presided over a grand consecration of the Ram Temple that was expected to be a foolfproof vote-winner. Incredibly, Modi found his own winning margin in Varanasi lopped off by two-thirds to 1.5 lakh compared with the last election.

There was bad news too from Maharashtra, India's richest state, where the electorate did not take kindly to the politics of defections as Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar outshone Shinde's Sena and Ajit Pawar's NCP despite having lost party symbols to them.

Between UP, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Haryana, and West Bengal, BJP's tally plummeted by almost 60 seats, a deficit that could not be offset by gains along the Coromandel Coast, especially in Odisha where BJP is all set to form the first government after Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal crashed under the weight of its five terms in office.

The poll outcome could also have an impact on the political dynamics within the BJP, dominated hitherto by Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Former MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan won from Vidisha by more than eight lakh votes. In Rajasthan, Delhi's choice for the CM's post Bhawan Lal Sharma's failure to deliver may embolden the Vasundhara Raje camp. Other senior leaders, who have champed at the bit for a decade, may also sniff their chances now.

Party president J P Nadda is on an extension and the party will have to decide on the new organisational chief when his term ends later this year. Given the underwhelming show, the role of the party's ideological fount, the RSS, which has till now given a free hand to the BJP in organisational matters, may come into play again.

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Published 06 June 2024, 16:04 IST

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