Modi’s Historic Third Term: A Victory Marred by Moral Defeat

Published: 5 June 2024

Modi gets a historic third time but with a huge blow. He secures it with a moral defeat of his decade in power that was defined by “politics of hate.” Almost all exit polls suggested the BJP was close to winning a majority. But in the end, Modi’s party fell woefully short and will now be forced to rely on coalition partners to form a government. The only option he has now is to share power.

The Unanticipated Setback


As the dust settles on India’s latest election, one fact stands clear: despite the victory, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces a substantial setback. The BJP, which has dominated Indian politics for the past decade, failed to secure an outright majority. This outcome marks a significant blow to Modi’s political strategy, which has often relied on polarisation and divisive rhetoric. The results serve as a stark reminder that while the BJP may have won the battle, it has potentially lost the war of moral and inclusive governance.


The Decline in Key States


The BJP faced setbacks in several states, notably India’s largest, Uttar Pradesh. The INDIA bloc, led by Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, was ahead in 43 of the 80 seats. This is a remarkable shift in a state that has often been a BJP stronghold. Uttar Pradesh, with its vast electorate, often serves as a barometer for national sentiment. The decline in support here is indicative of broader discontent with the BJP’s governance and ideological approach.


A Sense of Relief


There is a palpable sense of relief among many Indians. The prospect of a BJP majority had stirred fears of further polarisation and social strife. Modi’s administration has been characterised by its aggressive stance on issues of religion and nationalism, often at the expense of minority communities. The election results suggest a rejection of this divisive politics by a significant portion of the electorate. The moral defeat is evident: Modi’s strategy of stoking division has reached its limits.


Coalition Complications


Now, with the BJP falling short of a majority, Modi must navigate the complexities of coalition politics. This is unfamiliar terrain for a party accustomed to wielding significant power independently. Coalition governance requires compromise, negotiation, and a willingness to share power—traits not typically associated with Modi’s leadership style. The necessity of forming alliances may dilute the BJP’s hardline positions, forcing a more centrist approach.


The End of Politics of Hate?


Could this election signal the end of Modi’s politics of hate? There is a growing consensus that the Indian electorate is weary of divisive rhetoric. Voters are increasingly prioritising development, economic stability, and social harmony over sectarian divides. Modi’s appeal has always been his strongman image and promises of development. However, the limitations of such a strategy are now apparent. The need for coalition partners may necessitate a pivot towards more inclusive policies.


Broader Implications


The election results have broader implications for Indian democracy. They underscore the resilience of democratic institutions and the electorate’s capacity for self-correction. The moral defeat of the BJP signals a rejection of authoritarian tendencies and a reaffirmation of pluralism. It also highlights the importance of regional parties and coalitions in shaping the political landscape.


Looking Ahead


As Modi enters his third term, the challenges are manifold. He must address the economic disparities exacerbated by the pandemic, manage social tensions, and navigate the intricacies of coalition governance. This election serves as a crucial turning point. Modi’s ability to adapt to the new political reality will determine the future trajectory of Indian politics.


In sum, Modi’s BJP though clinched a historic third term, it came with a significant moral and practical defeat. The electorate’s message is clear: the politics of hate has limited appeal. The road ahead requires collaboration, compromise, and a renewed commitment to inclusive governance. This election may well mark the beginning of a new chapter in Indian politics, where the politics of division gives way to the politics of unity and development.