Modi’s BJP-led alliance ahead in India vote count, but opposition gains

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Modi’s BJP-led alliance ahead in India vote count,

June 4, NEW DELHI (Reuters) – In the general election on Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alliance sprinted to a majority in early vote counting trends, but the results fell far short of the landslide anticipated in exit polls, TV channels reported.
The initial see-saw patterns alarmed investors, causing sharp stock declines. At 0600 GMT, the S&P BSE Sensex (.BSESN) was down 4.2%, and the blue-chip NIFTY 50 (.NSEI) was down 4.4% on the new tab.

In addition to the rupee’s steep decline versus the dollar, benchmark bond yields increased.
The markets had surged on Monday on exit polls from June 1 that predicted a significant win for Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), with the party’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) predicted to secure a two-thirds majority and beyond.
TV channels said at 0600 GMT that, according to preliminary tallying, the NDA was leading in around 300 of the 543 elective seats in parliament, of which 272 constitute a simple majority.

Surprisingly, the opposition INDIA coalition, headed by Rahul Gandhi’s centrist Congress party, was ahead in more than 220 seats.

In contrast to the 303 seats it gained in 2019, TV channels revealed that the BJP held roughly 250 of the seats in which the NDA was leading, falling short of a majority on its own.
Since Modi has dominated the government for the past ten years, a third term for the BJP with a narrow majority or needing to rely on NDA partners for a majority could bring some uncertainty to governance.
Politicians and analysts countered that because the bulk of votes had yet to be tabulated, it was too early to determine any clear trends regarding the voting process.

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BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli told the India Today TV program, “It’s a fair assessment to say 400 at the moment certainly looks distant,” referring to some estimates that predicted the NDA 400 seats.

“But we need to wait…to have a final picture of the seats because the exit polls speak of a massive sweep, (and) the counting trends currently don’t seem to match that,” he stated.

“The BJP-NDA will form the government; that trend is very clear from the start,” he stated.
After the votes closed on June 1, TV exit polls predicted that Modi would win handily.

However, exit polls have a history of predicting incorrect election results in India. Sixty-four million of the over one billion voters who were registered to vote actually cast ballots.

Modi's BJP-led alliance ahead in India vote count
Modi’s BJP-led alliance ahead in India vote count

However, if Modi’s victory is confirmed even by a slim margin, his BJP will have triumphed in a vitriolic campaign in which parties accused each other of religious bias and of posing a threat to sections of the population

Modi’s BJP-led alliance ahead in India vote count brought Some Panic In Markets

Investors had welcomed the possibility of another term for Modi, anticipating more years of robust economic expansion and pro-business legislation in addition to the ability to amend the constitution with a two-thirds majority in parliament.

“There has been a significant decline in the Nifty due to the results showing a different picture than what the exit polls had indicated, even though they are in early trends,” stated Siddhartha Khemka, head of retail research at Motilal Oswal Financial Services in Mumbai.

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This is what’s caused some anxiety and worry. These are very early patterns. A coalition government or a hung parliament, which would cause lengthy delays in decision-making, is different from what the market wants, he stated.

Beginning on April 19, the seven-week, seven-phase survey was conducted in the sweltering summer heat, with some regions experiencing temperatures as high as 50° Celsius (122° Fahrenheit).

Pre-poll worries that voters could avoid a battle seen as a sure thing in Modi’s favor were dashed when

more than 66% of registered voters cast ballots, only 1% less than in the previous election in 2019.
Modi, 73, is vying to become just the second prime minister in history—after Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of India’s independence—by winning three consecutive terms.

He first stormed to power in 2014 with promises of prosperity and transformation.
He launched his campaign by highlighting his achievements as president, including welfare programs, economic expansion, national pride, Hindu nationalism, and his guarantee—dubbed “Modi’s Guarantee”—of keeping his word.

He did, however, reverse course after the first phase’s poor voter turnout and accuse the opposition—particularly the Congress party, which heads an alliance of twenty-two groups—of favoring India’s 200 million Muslims. Analysts claimed this made the campaign crude and polarizing.

They suggested that the pivot may have energized Modi’s BJP’s Hindu nationalist base in an attempt to get them to cast ballots. Modi defended himself by asserting that he was merely criticizing the opposition campaign in response to accusations that he was fomenting animosity between Muslims and Hindus in order to get votes.

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The opposition INDIA coalition said that Modi would shred the constitution if he came back to power and removed affirmative action for the so-called backward castes while also denying that it favored Muslims in the nation with a majority of Hindus. This is denied by the BJP.

Credit: Reuters