Lok Sabha 2024 Elections: The Return of Coalition Politics

Coalition Politics Returns
Preeti Bali / 6:51 am / June 5, 2024

The Lok Sabha 2024 elections have ushered in a new era of coalition politics, with the ruling BJP unable to secure the halfway mark on its own. Nevertheless, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) managed to cross the finish line with crucial support from key allies.

Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party, who also celebrated a landslide victory in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections, and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar emerged as pivotal allies, securing 16 and 12 seats, respectively. Their roles in the new government will be critical for maintaining stability.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized that this outcome is a mandate for his party to form a government for the third consecutive term. “People have expressed their complete trust in BJP and the NDA… I would like the influencers and opinion makers to note that since 1962 this is the first time that a government has come to power for the third consecutive term,” he stated.

Setbacks and Challenges for BJP

The biggest blow to the BJP came from Uttar Pradesh, significantly affecting the party’s chances of surpassing the 272-mark. The BJP’s national tally fell by 62 seats from 303 in 2019 to 241, with a loss of 29 seats in Uttar Pradesh alone. Modi’s victory margin in Varanasi declined by over 300,000 votes, and the BJP’s seats in the state dropped to 33 (36 for NDA) from 62 (64 for NDA). The party also faced setbacks in Rajasthan and Haryana.

The Ayodhya Ram temple issue failed to galvanize support as expected, leading to a decline in seats in the cow belt and the defeat of the BJP candidate in Faizabad. The party lost seats around Varanasi, including Ghazipur, Ghosi, Jaunpur, Machlishahar, Chandauli, Ballia, Azamgarh, and Robertsganj, with reduced support among backward castes and Dalits. The Samajwadi Party outperformed the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, winning 37 seats, while Congress increased its tally from one to six seats.

Gains and Losses Across States

Despite setbacks, the BJP made significant gains in Odisha, winning 19 of 21 seats, up from eight in 2019. In Telangana, the BJP doubled its tally to eight seats, and it won its first seat in Kerala, taking Thrissur. However, these gains were offset by a poor performance in West Bengal, where the party’s seats fell from 18 in 2019 to 12. In Rajasthan, the BJP lost 11 of the 25 seats it had swept in 2019.

The anti-BJP sentiment in key states also resulted in the defeat of several high-profile ministers, including Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani, Power Minister RK Singh, MOS for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Heavy Industries Minister Mahendra Pandey, and MOS for Health Bharati Pawar.

The Road Ahead for BJP and NDA

The BJP’s immediate challenge is to maintain the unity of the NDA, as the INDIA bloc remains determined to form a majority in the Lok Sabha. Both Naidu and Kumar, known for their political adaptability, will likely seek substantial concessions during the government formation process. Senior BJP leaders are actively engaging with all NDA allies to stake a claim as soon as the Election Commission finalizes the results on Wednesday. Rashtrapati Bhawan has announced it will close between June 5 and June 9 to prepare for the swearing-in ceremony.

Impact on Government Agenda

The shifting dynamics within the NDA could significantly influence the government’s agenda. A Common Minimum Programme might return to the political forefront, potentially forcing the BJP to abandon core issues like a nationwide Uniform Civil Code. Conversely, Nitish Kumar is expected to push for a Caste Census, aligning with demands from Congress and other INDIA parties to base reservations on the numerical strength of backward populations.

If the NDA forms the government, a robust and energized opposition will be ready to challenge the ruling party in Parliament. Passing legislation will necessitate more cross-party negotiations and collaboration.

Stay tuned as these developments unfold in the ever-evolving landscape of Indian politics.

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