InternationalVOLUME 19 ISSUE # 30-31

BJP-led coalition government: Implications for India and Pakistan

As the NDA alliance, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), won 294 seats—more than the 272 seats needed for a majority but fewer than expected— Narendra Modi was sworn in as prime minister for a third consecutive term. Notably, the BJP, for the first time in a decade, did not secure a majority on its own and will therefore rely on two smaller allies, the Janata Dal (United) and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). Both are secular rather than nationalist parties.

Although the BJP did not achieve a simple majority independently, it still won the largest number of Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) seats, indicating continued support for the BJP and PM Modi’s policies and governance. The key question now is what will be the major policies and governing style of PM Modi this term. This analysis is crucial because this might be the last time the party and Prime Minister Modi will be in power, at least for the foreseeable future.

The primary reason for this strategic forecast concerning India’s political landscape is the significant gains made by the main opposition party, Congress-I, led by Rahul Gandhi, in the last national elections. Congress-I has been a bold opposition against the strong-arm rule of Prime Minister Modi for the past 10 years but struggled to resist effectively within the parliament due to its weak strength.

Additionally, Congress-I faced organizational issues that hindered its ability to compete effectively against the BJP. The party also suffered from a leadership crisis, with Rahul Gandhi, son of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and grandson of former long-time Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, attempting to establish himself as a strong leader but failing to do so. The recent increase in Congress-I’s seats in the lower house is attributed not to effective leadership but to a growing number of Indians becoming dissatisfied with Modi’s policies and his government’s harsh treatment of religious minorities, particularly Muslims, along with exaggerated claims of economic achievements.

It is also important to note that the only effective opposition to BJP’s government has come from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi. However, due to its relatively weak historical presence and a political program focused mainly on advocating for the rights of ordinary citizens, the AAP has not been able to pose a significant challenge to the BJP. Additionally, strong political and programmatic differences within the opposition parties have prevented them from mounting a critical challenge to the BJP and its tactics. The BJP has effectively exploited these divisions to intimidate its opponents and govern as it sees fit.

Under Modi’s government, ordinary people have suffered from policies that primarily support big businesses. Although Prime Minister Modi may not have intentionally devised policies to harm common Indians, these policies have inadvertently led to increased unemployment and rising prices. As the BJP and Modi enter their third term, they will need to address these issues while governing over the next five years.

Given that this might be the BJP’s last consecutive term in power, the party will need to implement significant changes to secure a fourth term in 2029 and establish a lasting legacy in Indian, or more specifically, Hindu history. The BJP is fundamentally a Hindu nationalist party, and its governance has often been characterized by an anti-Muslim narrative and policies that marginalize religious minorities. The BJP and its ideological predecessors, such as the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha, have historically viewed Muslims in India as usurpers and have harbored a deep-seated animosity towards them.

This historical perspective shapes the BJP’s stance on Pakistan, with Prime Minister Modi’s administration likely to adopt a very tough anti-Pakistan position. Given this context, the possibility of an Indian military attack on Pakistan in the next five years cannot be ruled out, presenting a potentially catastrophic scenario.

In summary, while the BJP’s governance continues to enjoy significant support, its future success will depend on addressing economic disparities and navigating complex domestic and international challenges.

Another aspect of the upcoming BJP-led coalition government is the lack of an absolute majority for PM Modi, which makes him dependent on the JD(U) and TDP, parties that are not Hindu nationalist. The influence of these smaller parties could significantly impact how Modi governs the country. If these coalition allies manage to persuade the BJP and PM Modi to adopt a more moderate approach, there is a chance for positive change. This could also lead to improved relations with Pakistan, fostering peace and stability in the entire South Asian region, including India.

However, for now, the BJP securing a third term is a major concern for Pakistan. At a time when Pakistan is experiencing unprecedented political and economic instability, the return of the vehemently anti-Pakistan BJP and Modi to power is deeply unsettling for Islamabad. In summary, while the BJP’s continued governance raises concerns, particularly for Pakistan, the role of the coalition partners could potentially steer India towards a more moderate and stable future.