Modi’s humbled state and India’s unemployment and inflation are addressed in this analysis.

NEW DELHI – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to win a rare third term in office, but a smaller-than-expected mandate means he will have to lean more on his allies for support, and that means urgently addressing issues like unemployment, inflation and economic disparities in the world’s most populous nation.

According to Tuesday’s running vote count, unlike the previous two elections, Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party will need to rely on its alliance partners in order to reach the 272 majority threshold for the 543 seats of the lower house.

Modi set his National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) target at more than 400 seats, but the NDA is only leading by about 290 according to Election Commission figures about three quarters of the way into the counting. The BJP was in the lead in 239 of those seats, compared to 303 in the last election.

The final results will be announced later Tuesday or early on Wednesday.

Milan Vaishnav, a think-tank at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said that the BJP’s reliance upon allies in forming the government was a slap on the face.

“At this point, NDA allies are going to extract their pound-of-flesh, which will impact policymaking, but also the composition of cabinet. (Earlier), the BJP was able to dictate terms without much regard for its coalition partner.”

Modi is a strong leader who has never had to depend on alliance partners before. It was unclear how he would handle the situation.

Arathi Jerath, a political commentator based in New Delhi, said that Modi was not a figure of consensus. It will be interesting to see how Modi manages the pressures and pulls of a government coalition.

Rasheed Kidwai, a political analyst, says that populism and welfare policies are likely to “gain currency”, as Modi is going to be dependent on regional leaders who will support these policies. These include N. Chandrababu Naidu, in Andhra Pradesh in the south, and Nitish Kumar in Bihar, in the east.

Both Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Kumar’s Janata Dal-United (JDDU) have said that they will support Modi as prime minister.

Modi said the victory for his alliance was historic, and that “we would continue the work we have done over the past decade in order to fulfill the aspirations people”.

The BJP has admitted that unemployment played a role in the elections. It had previously campaigned on India’s economic growth, its increasing international standing, and the Hindu-first agenda of the party.

Gopal Krishna said: “We accept that employment is a challenging issue and we are doing our best to meet it.”

According to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (a private think tank), the unemployment rate in India increased to 8.1% from 7.4% in march. This is compared to around 6% prior to the COVID-19 epidemic. Modi came to power with the promise of 20 million new jobs per year in 2014. He has failed to deliver on that promise.

According to the government estimates, the rate of urban unemployment in the 15-29-year-old age group has increased from 16.5% to 17.0% in the previous quarter.

Rural distress has grown despite India’s economic growth of over 8%. Incomes are down and food prices are rising.

Due to this economic growth, India’s richest 1% are now the wealthiest.

Although headline inflation is low at around 5%, food inflation has been above 8% in November 2023. This has affected the poor most. The prices of vegetables and cereals rose by double-digits over the past year.

Turnout Trouble

Modi sought to win one of India’s largest mandates during the six-week long election. Most opinion polls taken before the voting started had predicted that he would be a winner, largely due to his popularity, his free cereals for the poor, his new roads and bridges and his courting the majority Hindus.

Several BJP officials have said that the BJP was concerned about the drop in voter participation in the first phase of the seven-phase election. One pollster who refused to be identified citing private conversations said he received calls from “panicked BJP officials” asking if something was wrong. Why aren’t there more people? “.

Some analysts said in TV debates at the same time that the opposition’s attempts to win the masses over with affirmative action promises, larger handouts, and more jobs was gaining momentum.

Modi’s strategy changed at that point.

He had earlier focused on issues such as India’s image, economic development and other topics. Now he accuses the opposition of favoring minorities Muslims to the detriment of Hindus.

Arati Jerath, a political commentator, said: “I think that the polarising campaigns that the Prime Minister ran this time and the kind of hyped-up, media outreach he did were all signs that it was worrying.”

The BJP claimed that Modi would be the best person to convey their message.

Agarwal, the spokesperson, said: “We discussed how sometimes our work, India’s economic development, India’s global image, and other things do not set up the narrative.”

The BJP has to respond in a similar manner. The prime minister must be the best communicator for our narrative to succeed.

Despite this, the BJP’s failure to gain a majority will probably result in the relegation of its promises, such as a civil code uniform for all religions – which is opposed by many Muslims – and simultaneous elections at the state and national levels. These policies could be replaced with those aimed at more basic issues, as demanded by its allies.

Michael Kugelman is the director of Wilson Center’s South Asia Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

“He is still very popular and his party would have performed even worse without him leading them. This is a leader that has consistently recovered from policy and political setbacks, and maintained large public mandates. “With the results we are seeing today, this narrative of resilience has taken a major blow.”

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