Editor’s Note: What the 2024 election results mean for India

Published : Jun 25, 2024 20:43 IST - 3 MINS READ

A fundamental reset in the BJP’s functioning is unlikely. One will see more hypocritical posturing by Modi while his stormtroopers do the opposite.

Profiling Chandrababu Naidu in this issue, our writer Ayesha Minhaz speaks of how he was ousted after his second term largely because of the growing dissent among small and marginal farmers, whose unhappiness India’s original technocrat politician did not understand and did not prioritise. Minhaz quotes a Telugu Desam Party insider saying, “During that period, Naidu truly thought he was invincible.” Ironically, while this election saw Naidu claw his way back to a fourth term as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, it is the leader of the party he allied with to craft his victory who must come to terms with the realisation that he is far from invincible.

Like Naidu and his party at one time, Narendra Modi and the BJP appeared infected with overconfidence in this election. They danced a premature victory lap with an arrogance that reeked of hubris, and it took the announcement of the actual numbers for the truth to sink in—both in the slavish TV studios and in the party offices. For a man and his cohorts to whom crushing dominance is the language of governance, the loss of 63 seats of their own and 60 seats of the NDA and being forced to rule at the head of a coalition is as good as defeat.

While the losses in places such as Ayodhya and its hinterland indicate an electorate tired of religious polarisation, this is unlikely to make the BJP or Modi or his successor, if any, alter the tangent of their ambition, which will always be to make India a Hindu Rashtra. Any post-mortem the party launches now will be about glib changes in vocabulary, and not anything substantive. Post-election analysts have written of the fear of the Constitution being altered that the opposition candidates invoked, but what they don’t mention is that it was no invoked fear but a fact. The BJP is ideologically committed to certain ideas and those cannot be achieved unless it amends or jettisons the Constitution in its present shape, for which it needs a two-thirds majority.

Saba Naqvi writes in her column this time that the BJP’s ideological father, the RSS, is irked with Modi. The annoyance stems from Modi’s losses, not from his actions. If the wild speeches spewing communal venom and the mandir campaigns in Mathura and Kashi had yielded a landslide, the RSS would have been embracing Modi without a mention of ahankaar or maryada. The RSS is critical of the “400 paar” slogan only because it would have preferred the party to cross the 400-seat mark quietly and then junk the Constitution, not announce it loudly (as some BJP leaders did) and scare away voters.

The election result of June 4 will yield no fundamental reset in the functioning of the BJP. On June 7, three Muslim men were assaulted in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur while transporting cattle. All three are dead. There has been no statement from the Prime Minister condemning cow vigilantism. Instead, he celebrated Yoga Day in Kashmir and announced that practitioners can use any incantation “whether Allah, Ishwar, or Waheguru”. The near future will only see more such hypocritical posturing by Modi while his stormtroopers do the opposite.

For now, we turn the spotlight back on further analysis of the election results. In this issue, Ashish Ranjan of Data Action Lab for Emerging Societies, Shamindra Nath Roy of Centre for Policy Research, and Frontline writers T.K. Rajalakshmi and Anand Mishra take up four angles: the performance of regional parties, the BJP’s urban vote, the farmers’ protests, and the rise of new Dalit leaders. Meanwhile, it is the upcoming Assembly elections that might more clearly confirm a rise or fall in the country’s democracy barometer.

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