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Legislative elections in India: Modi close to victory, with a reduced majority

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his allies are moving towards victory on Tuesday, but with a majority. reduced parliamentary power and the main opposition party strengthened, according to figures from the electoral commission.

Analysts and exit polls predicted a landslide victory for Mr. Modi and his party, whose campaign appealed to the Hindu majority, much to the dismay of religious minorities.

But for the first time in a decade, Mr. Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may not win the majority alone, without relying on allies of his coalition, according to figures from the electoral commission.

The main opposition Congress party, on the other hand, appears poised to nearly double its parliamentary seats, in a remarkable turnaround thanks to deals to introduce unique candidates against the steamroller of the BJP.

According to figures from the electoral commission after the counting of three-quarters of the ballots, the BJP and the members of its coalition would obtain at least 286 seats, more than the 272 necessary to obtain a parliamentary majority in the lower house of 543 seats.

The BJP, with 38.1% of the votes, leads with only 242 seats, according to the partial results of the electoral commission, well below the 303 seats won in 2019. The Congress, on the contrary, would win 99 seats compared to 52 five years earlier.

The celebrations have already begun at the BJP headquarters.

– “moral defeat” –

But the headquarters of the Congress, the main opposition party, was also jubilant.

“The BJP failed to secure a large majority on its own,” Congress MP Rajeev Shukla told reporters. “It’s a moral defeat for them.”

Legislative elections in India: Modi close to victory, with a reduced majority

Security personnel stand guard at a polling station in New Delhi, June 4, 2024 © AFP – Arun SANKAR

Faced with a better-than-expected result for the opposition and a reduced majority for the BJP, the benchmark Sensex index fell more than 7% on the Bombay Stock Exchange, before recovering and losing nearly 5% by 0815 GMT. The share price of the main listed company of Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, a key ally of Modi, fell 25%.

Based on previous general elections, the main trends are usually clear by mid-afternoon, with losers conceding defeat, although full and final results may not come until Tuesday night.

Mr. Modi, 73, who remains wildly popular after two terms, said this weekend that he was certain that “the Indian people have voted in record numbers” to re-elect him after a decade in power.

The Prime Minister's opponents, sometimes paralysed by internal struggles, have struggled in the face of the power of his party and accused the government of using justice for political ends by increasing the number of prosecutions against them.

The American foundation Freedom House also estimated that the BJP had “increasingly used government institutions to target political opponents”.

– “power of Indian democracy” –

The opposition and human rights defenders denounce a democratic decline and accuse Mr. Modi of favoring Hindus, the majority in the country, to the detriment of large minorities, including 210 million Indian Muslims, who are worried about their future.

Conversely, Mr. Modi accused the Congress of wanting to distribute “national wealth” to “infiltrators”, “to those who have the most children”, thus designating the Muslim community.

Indignant, the opposition contacted the electoral authorities who did not sanction the Prime Minister.

However, India is constitutionally secular and its electoral code prohibits any campaign based on “communal sentiments”.

Legislative elections in India: Modi close to victory, with a reduced majority

Indian National Congress party election candidate Gurjeet Singh Aujla celebrates after taking the lead in counting votes for the elections in Amritsar, June 4, 2024 © AFP – Narinder NANU

Some 642 million Indians voted in this election which took place in seven phases over a period of six weeks.

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on Monday extolled the “incredible power of Indian democracy”.

Based on the 968 million voters recorded by the commission, 66.3% of voters took part in the vote, a drop of one percentage point compared to the 67.4% participation in the 2019 general elections.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116