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Silent Indian voter rejects Narendra Modi

In one of the biggest electoral upsets in the last few decades, the silent Indian voter has turned upside down the Narendra Modi led BJP and National Democratic Alliance ruling dispensation. The BJP, which had been ruling India for the past ten years with a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, has failed to cross the half way mark in the general elections held over the last two months. What is more, its tally is far short of the 400 seats, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been aiming at.
Of course, the BJP has emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha, and its challenger, the Congress is nowhere near its tally. But there is no denying that the BJP has lost nearly 70 of the Lok Sabha seats it had won five years back, in the 2019 elections. Of course, the BJP can draw some satisfaction from the fact that its main challenger, the Congress, has managed to win just about a hundred seats, far lower than the BJP tally of 234 seats. Also, the ruling dispensation is drawing comfort from the fact that even the combined opposition tally is less than the BJP’s individual tally.
What is even more worrying for the BJP is that the party has lost significant ground in important states. The party has ceded space in a state like Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha. The BJP has also fared badly in Maharashtra, which sends 48 members to the lower house of parliament. The party has lost a significant number of seats in Rajasthan also. Of course, the party has gained some ground in states like Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. In Bihar also, the party, riding on the alliance with Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United, has been able to limit its losses, despite a spirited election campaign by the RJD.
But the fact remains that the Narendra Modi led BJP is no longer in a position to ride roughshod over the opposition or even its allies in the situation which is developing now. The party will have to carry along its allies while governing the country. It remains a question mark if Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the temperament for this type of tight rope walking.
The opposition parties, which have come together under the INDIA platform, would also be on the lookout for toppling the BJP led government, and forging a coalition to come to power themselves.
In the circumstances, one view is that it would have been appropriate for Mr Narendra Modi to give up the leadership of the National Democratic Alliance, making way for some other leader to assume the position. That way the NDA may have a better chance to navigate through the uncertainties of the coming crucial period.
But we know that politicians, as a rule, do not give up till they are kicked out. The way the political situation is developing, it appears that Mr Narendra Modi is no exception to this general phenomenon.

( B I Saini is a senior journalist, An IIS officer retired as DG, AIR News)


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