India elections: Should Narendra Modi be anxious?

India elections: Should Narendra Modi be anxious?

Kerry Wise
December 13, 2018

India's ruling party looked set to lose power in at least one of three traditional stronghold states releasing election results on Tuesday, in a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of national polls in 2019.

As of 9 a.m. on December 12, 2018, the Congress had won 67 seats and was leading in one, of which 36 seats were previously held by the BJP, according to the latest election results.

Election results are also being declared for the southern state of Telangana and the northeastern state of Mizoram.

Mizoram and Telangana were won by regional parties, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Mizo National Front, respectively.

"The Congress party has emerged as the single largest party with majority support".

However, the main contest was in the Hindi heartland, where the BJP and the Congress were pitted against each other.

For the Congress, too, victory was not without setbacks.

What remains abundantly clear is that the 2019 general elections will be a referendum on Mr Modi.

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In contrast, the Congress retained its lead over 18 seats, equalling the number it had won in 2013 and increasing by eight the seats it won in 2008.

"The BJP government has damaged most institutions". The BJP has been in power in Rajasthan for the last five years. Naturally, there was some anti-incumbency against us.

"We have our ideological differences with the BJP but that does not mean we want a BJP Mukt Bharat".

The second message from the results is that Rahul Gandhi has succeeded in exposing the falsity of the charges that had been levelled against him ever since he came into politics. But with the Congress improving its strength, pressure would be on parties like the BSP and the SP to join a Congress-led "secular" coalition. The BJP previously ruled all three, for three terms in two of them. "His stock is high". The aura of invincibility that Modi had acquired over the years stands diminished.

"The results will speed up the process of alliance formation that can take on Modi next year". The agency is under the direct control of the prime minister's office and the responsibility for the unseemly events is landing at Modi's feet. "I am sure of getting a majority".

The Election Commission of India will be making a declaration of the results shortly.

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections next year, these two issues could prove a stumbling block for the Modi government.

Now that a presidential-style contest is on the cards, it will be advisable for Rahul Gandhi to live up to the lesson which he says he has learnt from Modi's mistake - that of a lack of humility because "arrogance is fatal for a politician". He has four months to get it right.