Close this search box.

Modi’s Coalition Secures a Slim Majority in Indian Election

What is happening?

After a six-week-long process that attracted 642 million voters, the results of the Indian parliamentary election are in. Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 240 seats in the 543-seat Lok Sabha (India’s lower house), with its broader coalition – the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) – securing 292. With a drop of 63 seats, Modi’s party has lost its majority in parliament, and the opposition INDIA bloc refused to concede outright in the hopes of peeling away some of the BJP’s allies. Still, Modi is confidently heading towards his third term as prime minister, which will be defined by his dependence on coalition partners within the NDA.


What is the broader picture?

Modi’s BJP incurred a significant and surprising blow in Uttar Pradesh, where the opposition INDIA bloc picked up over half of all seats. Modi’s margin of victory in Varanasi, UP shrank from half a million to 150,000. At the same time, the BJP lost in the constituency of Faizabad, where Modi invited national controversy by opening a temple to Rama, a Hindu god, on the site of a destroyed mosque. Opposition leaders have taken these results as evidence of Modi’s increasing unpopularity, with some directly calling for his resignation. On the other hand, Modi’s BJP picked up seats in West Bengal and Kerala, proving its appeal outside of its traditional Hindi-speaking heartlands. 

In his ten years at the helm of the world’s most populous country, Modi has claimed many successes and faced several challenges. Modi’s supporters see him as winning respect for the country on the global stage by overseeing India’s rise to become the fifth-largest economy in the world, successfully hosting the G20 summit, and landing a rover on the moon. However, his second term was also dogged by farmers’ protests, allegations of mismanaging the COVID-19 pandemic, and worsening youth unemployment. Still, these difficulties have not disqualified Modi from a third term in office, and the BJP’s allies show no sign of breaking ranks within the NDA despite overtures from the opposition INDIA bloc.


Why does it matter?

A third but weakened term for Modi spells continuity for the country’s international relations. Modi is likely to continue his “multi-alignment” strategy, eschewing all-encompassing alliances in favor of selective cooperation. During his tenure, Modi has cultivated strong ties with US leaders and helped revive the US-led QUAD security initiative. At the same time, India remains reliant on Russian arms and is a major importer of Russian oil. Within organizations such as the WTO, the country has sought to cast itself as the spokesperson for the Global South, bringing it into conflict with the West.

India’s relationship with China may be its most complex. In 2015, India co-founded the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, headquartered in Beijing, and 2017, it joined the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization. However, India never joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which it sees as tools of Chinese influence. Tensions also remain along India’s borders with China despite Modi’s softer rhetoric during the election. As the opposition continues criticizing the BJP for alleged weakness on these issues, India’s relationship with China seems unlikely to see significant improvement.