Modi is winning in India, but without glamour


After an election in India which lasted weeks and which was both for the national parliament, the Lok Sabah, as well as for the legislators of the many states, the result is now finally known.

About a billion people were entitled to vote in the country that proudly calls itself the largest democracy in the world, although it also has its limitations.

Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist BJP party has ruled as prime minister for two terms now – with the entire election focused on him as a person. Not only did Modi have the advantage of being in power for a long time and being known to all, he also had virtually the entire media and numerous other opinion makers on his side. Moreover, the opposition has been harmed in all sorts of ways that really do not belong in a democracy.

Modi’s election campaign was particularly focused on the following themes: promotion of the Hindu religion, which the majority adhere to, and a not so subtle message that the Muslim minority (and other smaller religions) come second. Furthermore, he strongly beat the drum of India’s status as an equal among other major powers like the US and China. The economic growth and the modernization of the infrastructure during his reign were also emphasized.

But especially the message was one of Modi, the incorruptible, pious and wise leader. It does contain quite an element of truth. On the other hand, Modi also divided the country and India’s economic miracle is actually only thanks to the opportunities of globalization and technological development, as well as their catching up of a historical backwardness. For a very long time India has performed far below its potential, even now its economic development is not as impressive as China’s some two decades ago. Modi’s expectation was that he would improve on his already strong performance in the previous election.

Most of the smaller parties have joined two party alliances, namely Modi’s alliance around the BJP, and the alliance around Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party. The Congress party focused particularly on the themes of social justice, equality and poverty alleviation as well as the emphasis on secularism rather than religion – thus classic left-wing politics. Rahul Gandhi also acts, unlike Mr. Modi, with his traditional Indian garb and many religious symbols, consciously dressed in Western garb to emphasize the difference. Apart from the two nationwide alliances, there were still independent candidates and certain regional parties.

Modi’s alliance then won the absolute majority with 284 seats out of 542, but measured against the great expectations and compared to the previous two elections, it was rather a disappointment.

The reasons were apparently that his Hindu nationalism did not appeal to everyone, that the economic success was meanwhile taken for granted, and that his self-assuredness of a great victory may have reassured his supporters that they did not have to make an effort to don’t vote

The Congress party, after decades of decline, has now created new hope and together with its alliance partners won 201 seats, more than doubling compared to the previous election in 2019. Going forward, the party can take over the government again.