• Friday, July 19, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Modi set for tougher ride; key ally pledges support

Modi would be sworn in as prime minister for his new term on June 8, TV channels reported.

Narendra Modi along with TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and Jana Sena party chief Pawan Kalyan. (ANI Photo)

By: Pramod Thomas

INDIAN prime minister Narendra Modi faced Wednesday (5) the prospects of a far tougher-than-expected third term after his party failed to secure an outright majority for the first time since sweeping to power a decade ago.

The release of the results on Tuesday (4) upended conventional wisdom throughout the six-week election that Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda would power him to a landslide win.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost the outright parliamentary majority it had enjoyed during its first two terms, but is expected to still be able to rule leading an alliance of smaller parties.

Modi’s cabinet recommended the dissolution of the lower house of parliament on Wednesday, a day after his BJP-led alliance won a rare third term in general elections, news agency ANI said.

Meanwhile, a key ally of Modi pledged support to him and was set to attend a meeting to discuss forming a coalition government.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), a key regional player in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh which is in the alliance, said it stood firmly with Modi and his party.

“We are with the NDA, I will be attending the meeting in Delhi today,” Chandrababu Naidu, the leader of the TDP, told reporters.

Modi, 73, insisted on Tuesday night that the election results were a victory that ensured he would be able to continue his agenda, while his Hindu faithful celebrated across the country.

The BJP secured 240 seats in parliament, well down on the 303 from five years ago, and falling 32 seats of a majority.

The NDA won 293 seats in 543-member lower house of parliament, more than the 272 needed to form a government.

In a remarkable turnaround, the main opposition Congress party won 99 seats, almost doubling its 2019 tally of 52.

In a personal sting, Modi was re-elected to his constituency representing the Hindu holy city of Varanasi with a far lower margin of 152,300 votes — compared with nearly half a million votes five years ago.

Now dependent on coalition partners, the BJP will have to seek consensus to push its policies through parliament.

“The lurking possibility of them using their leverage, encouraged further by feelers from Congress and others in the opposition, is going to be a constant worry for BJP,” the Times of India reported.

Modi now has to “suffer the fate of working with an alliance partner… who could pull the plug at any time”, said Hartosh Singh Bal, the political editor of The Caravan magazine in New Delhi.

Read Also: India elections: BJP wins 240 seats, Congress 99 as all results declared

The weakened majority for Modi’s alliance could pose challenges for the more ambitious elements of the government’s reform agenda, ratings agency Fitch said.

However, it added: “Despite the slimmer majority, we do expect broad policy continuity to persist, with the government retaining its focus on its capex push, ease of doing business measures, and gradual fiscal consolidation.”

This reduced victory may not necessarily mean reform paralysis, the chairman of a government finance panel, Arvind Panagariya, said in an editorial in the Economic Times newspaper.

“Despite the reduced majority in parliament, the necessary reforms are entirely feasible. Delivering sustained growth at a accelerated pace can only strengthen the government’s hand in the coming years,” he said.

(Agencies)

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