India vote count shows Modi’s alliance winning a surprisingly narrow majority

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alliance was heading for a narrow majority as vote counting in the general election neared completion on Tuesday, falling short of an expected landslide in a surprising setback for the populist leader.

The alliance led by Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured a parliamentary majority, as shown by the official results late in the night.

With a few constituencies still left to declare, the alliance had secured 272 seats, enough for a majority in the 543-seat parliament, according to the election commission website.

The BJP itself had won 224 seats and was leading in 16 more, for a projected total of 240 — by far the largest party but a significant drop from the 303 seats it won in the last polls in 2019.

The main opposition Congress party had won 88 seats and was leading in 11, for a projected total of 99, nearly double the 52 it secured five years ago.

Having to depend on allies to form the government could introduce some uncertainty into policymaking after a decade in which Modi has ruled with an authoritative hold.

The BJP won a majority on its own in 2014, ending India’s era of unstable coalition governments, and repeated the feat in 2019.

In his first comments since the counting of votes began, Modi said people had placed their faith in the BJP-led coalition for a third time, calling it historic.

“The blessings of the people for the third time after 10 years boost our morale and give us new strength,” Modi told cheering BJP members at party headquarters in New Delhi.

“Our opponents, despite being united, could not even win as many seats as the BJP.”

Promising to work harder and take “big decisions,” Modi listed electronics, semiconductors and defense manufacturing, renewables, and the farm sector as areas of special focus in his third term, without elaborating.

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