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Celebration for All

“Your victory, our victory, Neither did we lose, nor did you win.”

The 18th Lok Sabha elections have given all parties—the ruling side, the opposition, and the Election Commission—reasons to celebrate their achievements

Manoj Kumar Pathak

There’s an old saying that perfectly captures the sentiment following the results of the 18th Lok Sabha elections: “Your victory, our victory. Neither did we lose, nor did you win.” Both the ruling party and the opposition can hum this tune in light of the recent election outcomes.

First and foremost, these results have undoubtedly strengthened the Indian public’s faith in democracy. The restoration of this belief among the world’s largest electorate is a significant achievement in itself. Not that there was a decline in democratic faith before, but in the past few years, especially with Narendra Modi’s rise to power and his party’s remarkable consecutive victories, there were murmurs and doubts spread by the opposition about the fairness of elections and the integrity of the electronic voting machines (EVMs). The election results announced on Tuesday have put those doubts to rest, enhancing the credibility of the Election Commission of India. Globally, it will be acknowledged that elections in India are conducted with utmost impartiality.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wasn’t entirely prepared for these results. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan, “400 plus this time,” indeed added excitement to the elections. The opposition parties rallied to prevent the BJP from crossing this threshold. However, the BJP leadership was aware of the ground realities. To energize their workers and encourage more vigorous campaigning, they projected a grand vision. Although the dream was not fully realized, the BJP has emerged as the largest party for the third time in a row and remains the primary contender for power, falling just shy of a full majority. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the BJP and its allies, is on the path to forming the government with a clear majority. Despite the opposition’s claims that the BJP has been defeated, this victory is significant for the BJP. After Pandit Nehru, Narendra Modi is the only Prime Minister to lead his party to power in such a consistent manner.

Political analysts and parties will dissect these results for days to come. Initially, it is clear that the BJP misread the pulse of Uttar Pradesh, Mamata Banerjee halted their advance in West Bengal, and their strategies in Maharashtra didn’t resonate well with the electorate. Particularly, the results in Uttar Pradesh have kept the BJP from securing a clear majority at the center. Akhilesh Yadav and his Samajwadi Party (SP) thwarted Modi and Yogi’s expectations.

At the core, the success of the SP’s coalition with the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in Uttar Pradesh, in contrast to BJP’s focus on the Ram Temple, infrastructural development, and a mafia-free state, played a crucial role. The SP has long worked on a strategy to unite Muslims, Yadavs, and Dalits. This time, they adopted the PDA (Pichde, Dalit, Agde) formula, which Akhilesh Yadav claims the BJP could not counter. This raises the question of whether Indian politics can ever move beyond caste-based voting. The BJP will need to reflect on why its nationalism message once again could not stand up to caste-based alliances. Nevertheless, the BJP can take pride in securing a third term in power, largely based on its nationalism narrative.

On the other hand, the opposition has its own reasons to celebrate. The ‘INDI’ alliance, crafted to defeat Narendra Modi and the BJP, has delivered impressive results in several states. Particularly in Uttar Pradesh, the SP-Congress alliance has turned the tide, providing a significant boost to the opposition. Leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, and Mamata Banerjee have emerged stronger from this contest. Even though the INDI alliance might not taste power at the center, their combined performance promises a robust opposition. There are concerns about the alliance’s longevity without power, just as the BJP will face challenges in keeping its allies united.

The Congress and its allies in the INDI coalition are more thrilled about preventing the BJP from achieving an outright majority than their own victories. They believe that a lack of a clear majority will weaken Modi’s government. There are already signs and attempts to break apart the NDA before the results are fully declared. The opposition seems happier about the prospect that without a clear majority, Modi might lose some of his commanding presence and authority. Hence, there is enthusiasm and celebration even in their apparent defeat.

The 18th Lok Sabha elections have given all parties—the ruling side, the opposition, and the Election Commission—reasons to celebrate their achievements.



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