The World’s Largest Democracy Holds an Election

The largest democracy in the world has had the largest election in the world (642 million voted). And Mr. Modi has won another term in office.

The largest democracy in the world has had the largest election in the world (642 million voted).  And Mr. Modi has won another term in office.  So why the lack of jubilation in Mr. Modi’s party, the BJP?  After all, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has clearly beaten the opposition INDIA group, sporting a tortuous acronym designed to profit from the country name. 

Well, the BJP had hoped to win enough seats to form a government by itself.  In that effort, it failed, and will have to rely on multiple minor parties and the horse-trading involved to form a government. 

The numbers speak for themselves.  Five years ago, in 2019, the BJP won 303 seats.  Of these, it lost 63 in this election leaving it with only 240 and necessitating a coalition.  In contrast, Congress, the leading opposition party won 47 more seats than in 2019, firmly establishing Rahul Gandhi’s position as leader of the opposition. 

A common perception about coalition governments is their instability.  Issues can easily arise causing disagreement among the parties and a few peel away; the government loses its majority and falls.  Either a new government is formed or, depending on the country’s

constitution, new elections are held, all of which can be extremely disruptive if it occurs once too often.  A prominent case with a major power was post-war France in the 1940s and 1950s with governments changing at the drop of a hat, or so it seemed, until they reformed the constitution jettisoning a purely parliamentary type.

In India’s case, we will have to wait and see how well Modi performs this coalition juggling act and keeps his partners happy.  He could of course decide to goad arch rival Pakistan into some maneuver causing a confrontation where a common threat cements Modi’s coalition again.  There are all kinds of tried and tested ways and the Kashmir region with its disaffected population in the Indian areas is an all too willing scapegoat.  Playing with a fire having nuclear embers is much too dangerous a game but the two countries have done it before, much to the consternation of the world. 

Nuclear-armed countries like India and Pakistan need to have more stable relationships than at present prevalent on the subcontinent.  On the far eastern end is Bangladesh.  Originally part of Pakistan, it broke away in the 1970s to chart its own course.  Disaffected tribal populations in India use its convenience of a porous border to finesse Indian military threats.

A subcontinent where there are many small rebel groups separated by languages and culture to which is added the repeated attacks on a 150 million Muslim minority labeled by a Hindu fundamentalist BJP leader as “infiltrators” who then turns around and claims in a TV interview that he did not mention Muslim or Hindu in that connection.  This despite the fact that his opposition the Congress Party filed a hate speech complaint against him following his remarks.

The election is over now.  The fact that Modi’s alliance performed far worse than anticipated should give him pause to reflect.  Perhaps he has played the Muslim card once too often, and accomplished far less than he promised in providing jobs for the young who have a chronic employment problem. 

Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan is a former Professor based in the US. Educated at King's College London, OSU and The University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. Thus he headed the analysis of an innovation survey of Norway, and his work on SMEs published in major journals has been widely cited. He has for several decades also written for the press: These articles and occasional comments have appeared in print media such as The Dallas Morning News, Dawn (Pakistan), The Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Monitor, The Wall Street Journal and others. On the internet, he has written for, Asia Times, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, Eurasia Review and Modern Diplomacy among many. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in its Congressional Record.