India’s General Election: PM Modi Moves Toward Unprecedented Third Term

A totally “unexpected” success for the opposition to win more than 230 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian parliament

Narendra Modi

The counting of ballots in India is still ongoing, but the near-final results speak clearly: the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is leading in 292 constituencies out of 543, with about 54% preference, while the opposition coalition Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), gathered around the Indian National Congress (INC) party, is leading in about 232 constituencies, which is about 41% preference. This is likely to be a new political victory for Modi, but less crushing than expected.

In an article published on June 4 in The Indian Express newspaper, Modi wrote that he “constantly thought about the bright future” of his country, while meditating in Kanyakumari, in the state of Tamil Nadu, where he retreated for two days after the end of the election campaign. This rounded up “the greatest triumph of democracy,” Modi wrote, calling India “the mother of democracy” and referring to it by its native name Bharat.

For the president of the Indian National Congress (INC), the main opposition party, Mallikarjun Kharge, the “lackluster” results shown by Modi’s coalition in the elections represent a “political and moral defeat” for the prime minister. If the preliminary results are confirmed, the Modi-led NDA political bloc will lose more than 50 seats compared to its results in the previous elections in 2019 when it won a truly overwhelming majority of 353 seats in Parliament and 65% preference.

In any case, Modi’s coalition looks set to easily break the majority barrier of 272 plus one seats needed to form a government in India. Nevertheless, the Indian National Congress (INC), the main opposition force and leader of the Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), has already begun celebrating an unexpected “electoral success” almost like a victory, as opinion polls were “giving” between 113 and 150 seats to the opposition.

The marathon election in India, a country of more than 1.4 billion people, was held in seven phases over six weeks, with nearly a billion people registered to vote and a turnout of 66%, representing 642 million voters. Counting will continue throughout the day on Tuesday, June 4, and likely overnight as well. If the preliminary results are confirmed, the door will open wide for Modi to seek an unprecedented third term, which no Indian leader has ever achieved before.