Modi story takes a hit as Indian voter stumps all; votes for a secular democracy, jobs and better quality of life



The dance of democracy was for all to see in India today. A long-drawn election finally wrapped up and the results started to pour in as people sipped their morning tea across the nation. It would not be wrong to say that the results surprised, shocked and mocked a few and many more.

Despite the exit polls giving the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) a win, many sat on the edge, for the Indian voter has never been easy to predict. And once again, the results proved the electorate’s faith in the system.

The ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance lost a number of seats and its total tally is down to 295 at the time of writing. The party is well below the majority mark of 272 and the alliance is now crucial and its partners will be more demanding if it forms the government.

These results can be seen as a vote against Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, for the last ten years, has been the undisputed leader in Indian politics. His slogan this time, 400 par (crossing 400 seats), has fallen flat too. For his party to form a government for the third term, they will need to stretch their hands to coalition partners and smaller regional parties. That in itself will undermine the party and the manner in which they run the government. For the last ten years, BJP and its leader grew comfortable in ‘ruling’ the nation and critics were silenced by fear.

The losses of some of its most polarizing leaders like Smriti Irani is the public signaling that the government must return its focus to inflation and unemployment. India remains deeply and firmly against communal politics. The anti- minority pitch may have run its course, and may not work for the party in elections.

The BJP even lost in Ayodhya, perhaps an indication of things to come. While religion makes up a part of every Indian’s identity, God belongs to all. This is a time for course correction by the party, is the message from the Indian voter.

The INDIA alliance, led by the Congress party, got together to challenge the hegemony of Modi’s BJP has done better than most expected. In all likelihood, the Congress and its allies will once again sit in the Opposition benches in Parliament.

But this time their confidence will have been boosted. They come back with not just greater strength in numbers, but also with the hope that the BJP’s stranglehold on politics is over.

A strong Opposition ensures a healthy democracy. An Opposition that questions and disagrees with policy breathes life into Parliamentary debates.

It would not be wrong to say that this is also a moral loss for Modi. He was, after all, the party’s star campaigner and it is on his coat tails that the party has grown in strength in the last decade or so. He also made the construction of the Ram Mandir (Ram Temple) in Ayodhya a political spectacle, hoping that it would garner pan-India support for his vision of a Hindu India.

India has voted for a return to Parliamentary democracy and an end to strongman rule. Without a clear majority for any single party, bills will have to be debated in Parliament before they can be passed.

Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Grand Old Party, the Congress, can finally bask in some much-deserved applause. Despite all the hurdles, he has finally come of age and given his party and many of its supporters hope that the party can again become a relevant political force in this country.

The real victor today is India and its proud people – voters who endured the summer heat and bravely stood in queues to exercise their vallot. They have proved to the world that despite all its shortcomings, Indian democracy does work.

And the voter wants basic issues of inflation, healthcare and jobs addressed. They have made it clear that religion and its symbols should exit political discourse in secular India.

For Modi, who in all likelihood, will become Prime Minister for a third time, this victory will be a bittersweet experience. People have rejected much of what he and his party promoted, especially the atmosphere of hate and fear.

It won’t be easy for the PM to accept the bruises to his larger-than-life persona. But this is politics, which spares no one.

The coming days will see intense lobbying and negotiation on who joins the government, but one hopes that the mandate of 2024 is respected.

So it’s back to basics for Modi 3.0: prices, jobs, development and please, no more hate-mongering. We are Indians. – Simran Sodhi is Executive Editor of


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