Modi claims victory in India's election but drop in support forces him to rely on coalition partners (2024)

Highlights from India’s election results: Catch up on AP’s coverage as results were tallied.

NEW DELHI (AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared victory for his alliance in India’s general election, claiming a mandate to move forward with his agenda, even though his party lost seats to a stronger than expected opposition, which pushed back against his mixed economic record and polarizing politics.

“Today’s victory is the victory of the world’s largest democracy,” Modi told the crowd at his party’s headquarters Tuesday, saying Indian voters had “shown immense faith” both in his party and his National Democratic Alliance coalition.

Over 50 countries go to the polls in 2024

  • The year will test even the most robust democracies. Read more on what’s to come here.
  • Take a look at the 25 places where a change in leadership could resonate around the world.
  • Keep track of the latest AP elections coverage from around the world here.

Official results from India’s Election Commission on Wednesday showed the NDA won 294 seats, more than the 272 seats needed to secure a majority but far fewer than had been expected.

For the first time since his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party swept to power in 2014, it did not secure a majority on its own, winning 240 seats — far fewer than the record 303 it won in the 2019 election.

That means Modi will need the support of other parties in his coalition — a stunning blow for the 73-year-old, who had hoped for a landslide victory. During campaigning, Modi said his party would likely win 370 seats and his allies another 30 seats.

RELATED COVERAGE

Narendra Modi’s third term as India’s prime minister may prove the most challenging

Relying on coalition partners, Modi is sworn in for a rare third term as India’s prime minister

He now depends on the support of key allies, including the Telugu Desam Party in southern Andhra Pradesh state with 16 seats and Janata Dal (United), which won 12 seats in eastern Bihar state, as well as smaller groups.

“Indian voters can’t be taken for granted,” said the Times of India newspaper in an editorial. “Voters have clearly indicated that jobs and economic aspirations matter. The economic message from the results is that jobs matter.”

The Congress party won 99 seats, improving its tally from 52 in the 2019 elections. Among its key allies, Samajwadi Party won 37 seats in northern Uttar Pradesh state in a major upset for the BJP; All India Trinamool Congress bagged 29 seats in West Bengal state; and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 22 seats in southern Tamil Nadu state.

The opposition INDIA coalition won a total of 232 seats.

The BJP may now be “heavily dependent on the goodwill of its allies, which makes them critical players who we can expect will extract their pound of flesh, both in terms of policymaking as well as government formation,” said Milan Vaishnav, director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“At the very least, the result pricks the bubble Prime Minister Modi’s authority. He made this election about himself,” said Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a political commentator. “Today, he is just another politician, cut to size by the people,” he said in an article in The Indian Express daily.

Modi claims victory in India's election but drop in support forces him to rely on coalition partners (4)

More than 640 million votes were cast in the marathon election held over a span of six weeks in the world’s largest democratic exercise.

In the face of the surprising drop in the BJP’s support, challengers claimed they had also won a victory of sorts, with the main opposition Congress party saying the election had been a “moral and political loss” for Modi.

“This is public’s victory and a win for democracy,” Congress party President Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters.

Despite the setback, Modi pledged to make good on his election promise to turn India’s economy into the world’s third biggest, from its current fifth place, and not shirk with pushing forward with his agenda.

He said he would advance India’s defense production, boost jobs for youth, raise exports and help farmers, among other things.

“This country will see a new chapter of big decisions. This is Modi’s guarantee,” he said, speaking in the third person.

Many of the Hindu nationalist policies he’s instituted over the last 10 years will also remain locked in place.

Modi’s win was only the second time an Indian leader has retained power for a third term after Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first prime minister. Before Modi came to power, India had coalition governments for 30 years.

Congratulations for Modi from leaders of regional countries including neighboring Nepal and Bhutan flowed in, while the White House commended India for its “vibrant democratic process.”

In his 10 years in power, Modi has transformed India’s political landscape, bringing Hindu nationalism, once a fringe ideology in India, into the mainstream while leaving the country deeply divided.

His supporters see him as a self-made, strong leader who has improved India’s standing in the world. His critics and opponents say his Hindu-first politics have bred intolerance while the economy, one of the world’s fastest-growing, has become more unequal.

For Payal, a resident of the northern city of Lucknow who uses only one name, the election was about the economy and India’s vast number of people living in poverty.

“People are suffering, there are no jobs, people are in such a state that their kids are compelled to make and sell tea on the roadside,” Payal said. “This is a big deal for us. If we don’t wake up now, when will we?”

Rahul Gandhi, the main face of the opposition Congress party, said he saw the election numbers as a message from the people.

“The poorest of this country have defended the constitution of India,” he told a news conference.

Modi’s popularity has outstripped that of his party’s during his first two terms in office, and he turned the parliamentary election into one that more resembled a presidential-style campaign, with the BJP relying on the leader’s brand.

“Modi was not just the prime campaigner, but the sole campaigner of this election,” said Yamini Aiyar, a public policy scholar.

Under Modi’s government, critics say India’s democracy has come under increasing strain with strong-arm tactics used to subdue political opponents, squeeze independent media and quash dissent. The government has rejected such accusations and says democracy is flourishing.

Economic discontent has also simmered under Modi. While stock markets have reached record-highs, youth unemployment has soared, with only a small portion of Indians benefitting from the boom.

As polls opened in mid-April, a confident BJP initially focused its campaign on “Modi’s guarantees,” highlighting the economic and welfare achievements that his party says have reduced poverty. With Modi at the helm, “India will become a developed nation by 2047,” he repeated in rally after rally.

But the campaign turned increasingly shrill, as Modi ramped up polarizing rhetoric that targeted Muslims, who make up 14% of the population, a tactic seen to energize his core Hindu majority voters.

The opposition INDIA alliance attacked Modi over his Hindu nationalist politics, and campaigned on issues of joblessness, inflation and inequality.

“These issues have resonated and made a dent,” added Aiyar, the public policy scholar.

Modi claims victory in India's election but drop in support forces him to rely on coalition partners (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Maia Crooks Jr

Last Updated:

Views: 6443

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Maia Crooks Jr

Birthday: 1997-09-21

Address: 93119 Joseph Street, Peggyfurt, NC 11582

Phone: +2983088926881

Job: Principal Design Liaison

Hobby: Web surfing, Skiing, role-playing games, Sketching, Polo, Sewing, Genealogy

Introduction: My name is Maia Crooks Jr, I am a homely, joyous, shiny, successful, hilarious, thoughtful, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.