A election that was staggered in seven phases over a span of 38 days giving 900 million electorate the mandatory chance to elect their government came to an end on Sunday.
The exit poll for 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, lower house of the Bicameral federal parliament, indicates a clean sweep and second five year term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi who heads the National Democratic Alliance.
The anti-incumbency factor apparently did not damage the electorate prospects of Modi substantially as the opposition was divided and confused.
The counting of votes is to take place on May 23rd (June 23) but there are much less hope that it will be very different from what most of the exit polls have projected.
While the main opposition Congress Banked more on anti-Modi campaign, mainly accusing him that he collaborated with a business house in Mumbai in what is known as Rafale aircraft deal with France, Modi countered it more aggressively and offensively. He told electorate repeatedly, from east to west and from North to South, that he would not compromise on national security where as ‘Congress may even disarm the security forces and help India’s enemies.’ Modi sent across a message that he would adopt uncompromising firmness for defending National security put him at a higher pedestal in the esteem of Indian electorate.Secondly, he made Hindutva a big electoral issue hoping it would have have a positive appeal on over 80 per cent of the population while it will make the rest including Muslims constituting about 14 per. Ent of the population more vulnerable.
Lynching of Muslims in about a dozen places of the country on suspicion of being beef traders or eaters has been an issue that harmed BJP’s image at home and internationally.
But all these remained isolated and week hammers in the hands of divided opposition who could not make a grand national coalition against the BJP.
An attack on a bus that was carrying nearly three dozen para military forces personnel leading to their death by terrorists in Kashmir, India’s surgical strike across the border holding Pakistan guilty for harboring terrorists on one side and Congress Party’s ridiculing the strike cost dearly to the opposition in the election.Modi exploited the situation to the hilt as he could go to the extent of labeling opposition as friends of the enemy.
Elections are over, and as India is so much used to democracy, the hostility among the contesting parties during the campaign, will not last longer, but that will only put Modi Government on a bigger trial in future.
Muslims may have felt more vulnerable during the election campaign, but they can any time align with opposition parties to hold the government to account if fresh assaults take place on them. His challenges will not be confined to India’s four boundaries alone.
India faces overwhelming presence of China in most South Asian countries aggressively increasing its investment and promoting the strategically crucial Belt and arias initiative. China is no more in a mood to retreat and India’s diplomacy will require to go along with China respecting sovereignty of those countries and redefining its relationship, bilateral as well as multilateral. Dignifying interdependence will be the yardstick to measure that India is no more a big bully but a collaborator in development in the neighborhood and the region and therefore a natural leader.
India!s relationship with Nepal nosedived during the Modi raj when it imposed a 134-days economic blockade pushing Nepal into scarcity and hardship in September 2015 against Nepali ‘s refusal to defer the delivery of the constitution.
The blockade injected hostility ingredients minds of the Nepalese people against India where as the government led by K P Oli signed framework agreement on trade and transit with China ending Nepal’s sole dependence with the South on transit through the sea with any third country. in the years that followed, Nepal signed to associate itself with China ‘s BRI project, like Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the region.
In Nepal, the main chalkboard with reinforced Modi will be to show honestly that India will play less in internal politics in Nepal and ensure that the time frame bilaterally finalised on project implementation are adhered to. that will give India back the image it has lost. in Nepal, and other South Asian countries as well.
An India that will be trusted and respected in the region will naturally command larger respect and space in the world so crucial at a time when it has set its ambition to emerge as world’s top economy and power.